Puerto Rican Rellenos de Papa is an amazingly tasty and delightful dish. The flavors and texture are distinctively unique to Puerto Rican cuisine.
Rellenos de Papa Recipe-
F or the Dough-
- 6 large Idaho and/or Russet potatoes, peeled
- ¼ cup kosher salt
For the Picadillo-
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium sized white onion, diced fine
- 1 red bell pepper, diced fine
- 10 large cloves garlic, pounded and mashed into a paste
- ½ cup sofrito (a must have ingredient, for authentic Puerto Rican flavor)
- 1-3/4 cups Spanish style tomato/sofrito sauce (a must have ingredient, for authentic Puerto Rican flavor)
- 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 4 lb. lean (less than 10% fat) ground beef (sirloin is best)
For the Rellenos-
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- corn starch, for dredging
- vegetable oil, for frying
To make the dough-
- Place the potatoes, whole, in a large cooking pot; fill with cold water until potatoes are covered, and bring the water to a boil. (You want the potatoes left whole so they will preserve their full starch content, which will be needed for holding the rellenos into the desired shape) Pour 1/4 cup of kosher salt into the boiling water and cook until potatoes are fork-tender—about 45 minutes should do it.
- While the potatoes are still hot, drain them, chop into small chunks, and mash them until mostly free of lumps, but not totally smooth.
- Salt the mashed potatoes with 1 tsp., then set aside and allow to cool until you can handle the mash.
For the Picadillo-
- Warm the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, then add in the onion, and sauté for about 2 minutes until softened, translucent and fragrant.
- Now add in the sofrito, garlic and red pepper, and continue cooking, all the while stirring, for another 3 minutes.
- Stir in oregano, cilantro, and tomato sauce; season with 2 tbsp. of salt, and cook for one more minute.
- Add in the meat by crumbling the lump of ground beef with your hands into the pan in little bits. Sauté for about 4 minutes, using a wooden paddle to stir and continue to break apart the beef until it is all reduced to tiny bits.
- Add in another tablespoon of salt and continue to sauté for 20 minutes, stirring now and then, until beef is cooked through, the flavors have concentrated, and all the liquid has evaporated.
To make the Rellenos de Papa-
- Dip an ice cream scoop in very cold water and pack it tightly pack it your with mashed potatoes.
- Holding the ball of mashed potatoes in one hand, dip your other hand’s forefinger in olive oil, and then plunge it into the center of the mash ball, far enough to make a deep cavity, but not poking all the way through to your other hand. Wiggle your finger in a rotation to make the cavity as wide as possible without breaking through the wall of the ball.
- Now stuff cavity with equal portions of cream cheese and picadillo, and gently compress the filling fully into the cavity.
- Carefully fold up and press together the opening in the ball, sealing it shut. Make sure the seal is done evenly; any weak spots will give way to leaks during the frying process.
- Repeat the rellenos filling steps, always dipping the scoop in cold water before each one, until all your ingredients are used up.
- Using a deep skillet or saucepan, fill with enough vegetable oil to be able to fully immerse the rellenos, and heat up to 350°F.
- Dredge the rellenos in cornstarch, then pat off any excess.
- Using a slotted spoon, and exercising caution, lower them gently into hot oil. Deep fry 3 to 4 minutes, turning now and then if necessary, until your Rellenos de Papas are a rich, deep golden brown. Using the same slotted spoon, lift the rellenos out of the oil, and set on a few layers of paper towels to drain.
- Serve your Rellenos de Papa right away, while still nice and hot.