Today I had a craving for a Puerto Rican treat I have not made in years called Rellenos (re-ain-yos) de Papa. They are 2″ potato balls that are stuffed with Picadillo, a savory meat mixture, then fried to a golden brown. They are crispy on the outside and creamy inside. It’s like having  Shepard’s Pie to go. What a concept comfort food in a to go package.

Picadillo :
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ cup onion, peeled and chopped
3 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried cilantro
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1 pound lean ground beef
16 manzanilla olives, stuffed with pimento, sliced in half
8 ounces tomato sauce
¼ cup raisins

Rellenos de Papa:
2 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
8 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoon salt (for boil)
4 tablespoons butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 Picadillo recipe
cornstarch (to coat balls)
vegetable oil (for deep-frying)

Picadillo Recipe:
Heat oil in sauté pan over medium low heat. Add green peppers, onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add oregano, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper and ground beef to the pan and stir to break up the beef until meat is slightly browned and all of the pink is gone. Add olives, tomato sauce and raisins to the pan then cover and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat. Drain meat in a colander to remove excess liquid. Set aside and cool to room temperature.

Rellenos de Papa Recipe:
Place potatoes and salt and enough water to cover potatoes by 1” in a large pot. Cover and boil for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes and mash or run through a potato ricer. Add butter, egg, salt and cornstarch and mix well. Cool to room temperature. Divide mixture into even sized balls.(I use an ice cream scoop to get them even) Cover palm of hand with the cornstarch and place ball on palm. Using your finger open a hole in the ball. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the picadillo into hole (I try to get an olive and a raisin in each ball) and squeeze ball to cover the meat. Roll the ball in your hand to coat with cornstarch and proceed with remaining balls. Deep fry in vegetable oil until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Yeilds 16 pieces. The left over Picadillo can be frozen for another batch or be used to make empanadas but that recipe is for another day.


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