Papas rellenas are a popular lunch-on-the-go option in both Cuba and Puerto Rico. The dough is made from mashed potatoes and stuffed with seasoned ground beef. You can use your choice of filling here to suit your mood. Note that papas rellenas are traditionally made to be much larger than this and are cooked in a deep fryer. Since these are pan-fried, it is much easier to make a mini version so that they cook evenly.
- Yield: 2 Servings
- 1½ lb (455 to 680 g) baking potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2 tbsp (28 g) lard or palm shortening
- ½ tsp fine Himalayan salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp (16 to 24 g) tapioca starch
- 1 cup (170 g) chilled ground meat filling of choice: Picadillo or Carne Molida
- ¼ cup (56 g) lard, coconut oil or avocado oil for frying
- Place the quartered potatoes in a large pot with a lid and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a gentle boil and cover. Cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Drain the potatoes and place in a mixing bowl. Use a potato masher or a fork to mash the potatoes until smooth. Add the lard, salt, pepper and tapioca starch and mix to combine evenly into a dough. You should be able to form balls without the dough cracking. Allow the dough to cool enough to handle (you can place it in the fridge for a few minutes, if necessary).
- Take 2 tablespoons (28 g) of the dough and roll it into a ball between your hands. Flatten the ball and curve your palm to make a bowl shape. Add a heaping ½ tablespoon (8 g) of chilled meat filling to the dough and pinch up the sides to close. If you need a little extra dough, you can add more. Repeat until all dough is used up, making 12 to 14 balls.
- In a small skillet, heat your fat of choice over medium heat until shimmering, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, carefully add 4 or 5 balls to the fat. Turn the balls once every 1 to 2 minutes to brown on all sides, cooking for a total of 6 to 9 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and allow to cool for 3 to 5 minutes before serving. Keep cooking in batches until all the balls are fried.
- Serve immediately. Pairs well with Mojo de Ajo.