22 March 2011

Daring Cooks March Challenge: Papas Rellenas

Surprisingly tasty papas rellenas!

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenged us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

I’m late again. But I finished it! And the kitchen is still a mess, but that’s okay, I have a whole 12 days to clean it before Bender gets home! Which is actually why I’m late. I was waiting for Bender to go out of town again. Originally I had planned to make this before he left since we were having people over. But the more I looked at the recipe, the more I realized I wanted to try it as written, and not change the filling in the papas rellenas. And Bender was not going to like the filling. Heck, I hesitated over the filling. Raisins? Hard boiled eggs? Olives? Eh.

So, what are papas rellenas? They essentially are a potato dumpling with a savory filling. I used the beef recipe provided and also made the suggested salsa criolla. The salsa criolla is essentially onions… yum! Since the recipes are so long, I’m going to give you my thoughts and verdict here.

The filling: ground beef, onions, eggs, olives, raisins, cumin, and paprika

The potato dough was quite difficult to work with. While the recipe suggests flouring your hands, I found wetting my hands worked a bit better. My potato dough was quite soft, but once I found a rhythm, it went smoothly: wet hands, form potato pancake in hand, add filling, cover filling completely with pancake so that you reform a “potato.” It was surprisingly fun once I put on some good tunes. Make sure you have something going on in the background…

And the filling. You might be surprised that I listed olives as “eh.” See, I like olives, a lot. But I prefer them whole by themselves, or maybe possibly chopped and placed on Mexican food. Cooked into things? I’m not longer even a big fan of them on pizza. Just give me an olive, plain. And raisins? They are fabulous on a PB&J, but beyond that I don’t have much use for them. Particularly with a savory filling. They just seem a bit too sweet for savory, so I hesitated to use them. Hard boiled eggs? I tend to like certain egg salads, but I generally like to reserve my hard boiled eggs for deviled eggs. Why else would you take the yolk to the no-longer-runny zone?

But the final taste? Surprisingly good. I will definitely order these in a restaurant if I come across them on a menu, but I’m not certain I will make them again. It took me a solid three hours to make them even though I thought I was being time efficient (eh, somewhat). Of course, I didn’t use quite enough oil so they took much longer to fry than they should have (I had to flip them three times instead of once). But overall, the flavor was good. I would have preferred to use more olives and fewer raisins, but I was glad to try something new. And based on the filling alone, it’s not something I would have ordered previously. So many thanks to Katelyn for getting me to step outside my zone and cook something new and different!

I’ll-order-it-out-but-probably-won’t-make-it-again: 1 vote
Make-the-salsa-criolla-again: 1 vote
Erm, I might have voted twice this time around.

Potato-shaped fried potato dumpling

Papas Rellenas de Carne
For the dough:
2¼ lb (1 kg) russet potatoes
1 large egg

For the filling:
2 tablespoon (30 ml) of a light flavored oil
½ lb (250 grams) ground (minced) beef
6 black olives, pitted and chopped (use more if you love olives)
3 hard boiled large eggs, chopped
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup (240 ml))
½ cup (120 ml) (90 gm) (3 oz) raisins, soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes, then minced
1 finely diced aji pepper (ok to sub jalapeño or other pepper – if you are shy about heat, use less)
2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press (if you love garlic, add more)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) (1/8 oz) ground cumin (use more if you like cumin)
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) (2 gm) (1/16 oz) sweet paprika
¼ c. white wine, water or beef stock for deglazing
Salt and pepper to taste

For the final preparation:
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
Dash cayenne pepper
Dash salt
1 cup dry (240 ml) (110 gm) (4 oz) or fresh (240 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) bread crumbs (you can use regular,
panko, make your own or use store-bought)

Oil for frying (enough for 2” (50 mm) in a heavy pan like a medium sized dutch oven)

In order to save time, you can boil the potatoes, and while they are cooling, you can make the filling.
While that is cooling, you can make the potato “dough.” In this way, little time is spent waiting for
things to cool.

For the dough:
1.       Boil the potatoes until they pierce easily with a fork. Remove them from the water and cool.
2.       Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them and mash them with a potato masher or force them through a potato ricer (preferred).
3.       Add egg, salt and pepper and knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.

While the potatoes cool down before finishing the dough, you can make the filling:
1.       Gently brown onion and garlic in oil (about 5 minutes).
2.       Add the chili pepper and sauté for a couple more minutes.
3.       Add ground beef and brown.
4.       Add raisins, cumin and paprika and cook briefly (a few seconds).
5.       Deglaze the pan with white wine.
6.       Add olives and cook for a few moments longer.
7.       Add hard boiled eggs and fold in off heat.
8.       Allow filling to cool before forming “papas.”

You can see I had trouble getting the filling on the inside!
Forming and frying the papas:
1.       Use three small bowls to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt. In the second, a beaten egg with a tiny bit of water. Put bread crumbs in the third
2.       Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands.
3.       Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling.
4.       Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center and then roll the potato closed, forming a smooth, potato-shaped casing around the filling. Repeat with all dough (you should have about 6 papas). I made nine large(ish) papas.
5.       Heat 1 ½ - 2 inches (4 – 5 cm) of oil in a pan to about 350 – 375° F (175 - 190°C).
6.       Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs.
7.       Fry the papas (in batches if necessary) about 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip once in the middle of frying to brown both sides.
8.       Drain on paper towel and store in a 200ºF (95ºC) (gas mark ¼) oven if frying in batches.
9.       Serve with salsa criolla (or other sauce of preference) immediately.

I tried to pick up the papa with dry hands. Oops.
Salsa Criolla*
2 medium red onions, cut in half and very thinly sliced (as half-circles)
1/2 chili pepper (your preference)
1 tablespoon vinegar
Juice from 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Salsa criolla before marinating.
1.       Soak the onions in cold salt water for about 10 minutes to remove bitterness. Drain.
2.       In a medium bowl, combine the onions with the rest of the ingredients, season with salt and pepper.
3.       Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for the onions to macerate and the flavors to combine.

* I actually served my salsa criolla with soft tacos instead of the papas rellenas. It was quite wonderful and I recommend it!

Salsa criolla on a ground beef soft taco.
Head on over to the Daring Kitchen to see what the others cooked up and get the pdf of the recipes, complete with a vegan option and a recipe for a pisco sour! 


  1. It looks interesting. I'm not an olive or raisin girl either so I'm a little skeptical. However, things rolled up in a ball taste very different than separately. Do you think I'd like it?

  2. Enjoyed your step by step pictures. Don't think I would try making it but would try eating.

  3. That type of filling with raisins, eggs, olives, and beef is a very common combination for Hispanic and Filipino food. If you don't want to make potatoes again, use the filling to make empanadas. You can buy empanada rounds in the grocery store, so it's a snap.

  4. @ Tabitha: Vielleicht? It's fried, so that ups the yummy factor, too. I'd suggest splitting an order with someone as an appetizer and going from there if you ever get a chance!

    @ Aunt Vicki: It's a definite try!

    @ Ninette: Great idea! I love empanadas. I typically go with a beef and salsa filling, but now I want to try this one. The filling is such a breeze to make that the prep time would definitely be reduced!

  5. I'd be willing to try it sometime. You never know til you try, right?


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