The Best Relleno de Papa
Updated: Jul 16
Fried mashed potatoes filled with delicious beef! Doesn't get much better than that. You can always find rellenos de papa in the local cafe or chinchorro. The perfectly crisp crust contrasts perfectly with the pillowy soft potatoes and then the savory filling really comes through. There's a reason why they are one of Puerto Ricans' favorite frituras.
Save some room for this one!
2 tbs oil frying
16 Oz ground beef
¼ c sofrito
2 tsp adobo
1 tsp annato oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c olives and pimentos diced
¼ c tomato sauce
¼ chopped cilantro
2 lbs peeled diced potatoes
8 c water
2 tsp salt
2 tbs butter
½ tsp anatto oil
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp adobo
½ tsp salt
1 tbs corn starch
⅓ c flour
⅓ c corn starch
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
We are going to start by making our meat filling, or picadillo, that we’ll use to stuff the potato croquettes. Heat up a large frying pan and, once hot, add your vegetable oil and ground beef. We are going to cook the beef until it starts to brown and most of its liquid has evaporated. As you cook your beef, use your spatula to break it into small pieces, which will easily fit inside the middle of the croquette.
Keep browning your meat, stirring constantly until most of the liquid has evaporated. Then go ahead and add your onions and your garlic. Continue cooking this until the onions start to turn translucent. Then add your sofrito and your achiote oil and stir to combine. Saute for another minute or two, until the liquid in the sofrito has evaporated; then add your olives and tomato sauce and saute for another minute or two. Next, add your adobo and stir to combine. Once combined, taste your picadillo for salt and adjust as necessary. Finally add your chopped cilantro and turn off the heat. You don’t want to overcook the cilantro because it will lose a lot of its aromatic flavors. Transfer your picadillo to a clean container and set it aside while we work on the potato dough.
To make your potato dough, heat up 8 cups of water with 2 teaspoons of salt. You want to salt your water because it will help evenly season your potatoes and the ratio of salt to water matters, because it will determine how salty your potatoes are.
Once your water is boiling, add your cubed potatoes and turn the heat down to medium -- we want to cook the potatoes slowly so we can take them out at just the right time.
The amount of time your potatoes need to cook will depend on how big you cut them and how much heat your stove produces. My potatoes cooked in about 10 minutes -- but you want to just check them from time to time with a fork.
Once you can easily insert your fork into the potato cubes they are done. Then pull them off the stove and drain them, rinsing with cold water until they are cool enough to handle. Lastly, make sure to drain your potatoes thoroughly. You want to get off as much water as possible. Otherwise your potato dough will be too soft to shape.
Now move your potatoes to a large mixing bowl and add the butter, the achiote oil, the adobo and salt, and the cornstarch and cumin. Once you’ve added all the ingredients, use a potato masher to mash all of the potato cubes and combine them with the rest of the ingredients. You want to thoroughly smash your mixture so there are no big lumps of potatoes left. This will take some time, as well as a lot of elbow grease; but it’s well worth it. Getting a big chunk of potato in your relleno de papa is not all that appetizing.
Once your mixture is smooth, add one egg and mix to combine thoroughly. This egg is pivotal to keeping your dough together when you fry it, so make sure not to forget it. I’m speaking from experience here because I have forgotten to add the egg before and the results are not pretty.
With your dough finished, we are ready to shape our croquettes. To do this, take about ⅓ a cup of dough and form it into a ball. Then use your fingers to make a depression in the middle of the ball--effectively flattening the ball into a disk with an indent in the middle.
Then add about 1 tablespoon of your picadillo into the middle of the disk and press it down into the potatoes. Then begin pressing up the sides of the disk until they meet in the middle and you are able to seal the potato dough at the top. Then just roll the ball around in your hands to make a round, spherical shape. Now repeat this process for the rest of your dough. I made roughly 9 balls with the mixture I had, although I had some picadillo left over.
Once your croquettes are formed, go ahead and make your batter. Just combine your flour, corn starch, and seasonings in a large pyrex and mix to combine evenly.
To batter your croquettes, just roll them around in the pyrex until they are coated with batter. Then shake off any loose batter and give them a little additional love to make sure they are an even sphere and are firmly packed together. Repeat for all of your croquettes.
To fry your rellenos de papa, use a deep frying pan and add enough oil to cover at least half of the height of the croquettes. Heat your oil until it reaches 350 degrees fahrenheit, then add your croquettes, three at a time and begin frying them.
I like to move the rellenos frequently, in order to ensure an even cook on all sides. Fry them until they are an even golden brown on all sides, then remove them from the oil and let them dry on some paper towel.
Repeat this process with the remaining croquettes. Once they are all fried, you are ready to eat!
Check out our instructional video, showing how to make this recipe step-by-step HERE.