Papas rellenas, also known as rellenos de papa are a staple in many Puerto Rican bakeries. These savory stuffed potato balls feature a fluffly mashed potato and rich ground beef filling, and a crunchy exterior. Try eating just one, I dare you.
If there’s one thing I’ll always order at a Puerto Rican panaderia (bakery), it’s a papa rellena AKA relleno de papa. These crunchy, savory stuffed potato balls always give me an instant hit of nostalgia upon the first bite, because my Abuela Yolly was the one who always made these for my family when she came to visit from Puerto Rico. They’re the perfect on-the-go snack, which is why you’ll usually find them in panaderias or beachside kioskos like the famous ones in Luquillo, Puerto Rico.
Where did Papas Rellenas originate from?
According to Cusco Eats, this dish was invented for soldiers during the war between Peru and Chile:
“The history of this delicious treat takes us to 1879 in the height of the War of the Pacific. Peruvian soldiers needed to march long distances … the soldiers had to carry pre-made food…Using their ingenuity they would cook beef or other meat, prepared in a rough chop or grind, seasoned and cooked. Then they made a kind of dough with previously cooked potatoes. In the potato dough they formed a hollow in which they placed the seasoned meat. They would seal it and form the potato in thick torpedo shapes which they fried to develop a resistant skin. The fried, stuffed potatoes they then wrapped in stretches of cloth, such as kerchiefs” (Cusco Eats 2013).
What Are Papas Rellenas Made Of?
This popular Latin fritter consists of mashed potato balls that are stuffed with seasoned ground beef known as picadillo. These stuffed potato balls are then deep fried to crispy, crunchy perfection. To bread the papas rellenas, you place the potato balls into flour, then beaten egg, and finally breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs.
What To Serve With Papas Rellenas
Can You Make Papas Rellenas Ahead Of Time?
YES! To freeze them for later use, place the rellenas on a cookie sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper and freeze them until solid. Then place them in a freezer bag and store for up to 3 months. Before frying them, defrost overnight in the fridge.
Puerto Rican Papas Rellenas (Stuffed Potato Balls)
Papas rellenas, also known as rellenos de papa are a staple in many Puerto Rican bakeries. These savory stuffed potato balls feature a fluffly mashed potato and rich ground beef filling, and a crunchy exterior.
Forming The Papas Rellenas
Pour the milk and water into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 3 minutes or until hot. Stir in the instant potatoes and sazon seasoning, stirring to make sure all the potatoes get wet and don't end up with lumps. Cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes to cool.
Dust your hands with flour, and flatten about 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes into a disk in the palm of your hand. Add a heaping tablespoon of picadillo to the center of the disk and bring the edges of the potato up and around the picadillo. Seal the edges and roll into a smooth ball. Repeat until all the potato has been used up, making sure to coat hands in flour each time.
Breading The Papas Rellenas
Form a breading station by place your flour into one bowl, the beaten eggs into a second bowl, and the breadcrumbs into a 3rd bowl. Add ½ teaspoon of adobo seasoning each to the flour and breadcrumbs, and stir with a fork to distribute the seasonings.
Roll each potato ball into flour, then beaten egg, and finally into the breadcrumbs. Refrigerate the breaded potato balls for 30 minutes to give them a chance to firm up.
Frying The Papas Rellenas
Preheat your oil to a deep fryer to 375 degrees F.
Fry the rellenos a few at a time, until they're golden brown and crunchy. Let them rest for 3-5 minutes before serving, they're hot!