Papas rellenas are the ultimate comfort food. Typically filled with a seasoned beef mixture, this mashed potato croquette is popular throughout Latin America.
I sometimes make papas rellenas with a simple cheese filling rather than going to the trouble to make the seasoned beef. It shortens the active preparation time a bit, though you can, of course, make the filling while the potatoes cook.
There are some tricks for success when making this dish. First of all, once the potatoes are boiled and drained, it helps to return the potatoes to the stove and cook them over medium-low with some butter for about 3-5 minutes, letting the steam escape as you mash them with a potato masher. Removing the excess water from the mashed potatoes in this way helps them to hold together much better when fried.
When breading the croquettes (after the mashed potatoes are stuffed with cheese and shaped into a potato-like form), use only one hand for touching the egg mixture. It's much easier to manage if one hand stays dry. I learned that trick from this excellent video recipe for fish and chips from Melissa Clark at the New York Times. Seems like a small thing, but it has proven to be quite useful.
- 5 medium russet potatoes
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 12 ounces cheese of choice (mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey jack, etc)
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Optional: 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Optional: 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 bottle vegetable oil
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel the potatoes and cut them in half. Cook the potatoes in the boiling water until they are very tender when pierced with a fork.
- Carefully drain the potatoes, then return them to the pot over medium-low heat. Add the butter and mash the potatoes with a potato masher while cooking them over the stove, letting the steam escape. When the potatoes seem dry and start to come together in a sort of "dough", remove them from the heat. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Cut the cheese into 1-inch cubes. If you are mixing two different cheeses, you can also grate the cheese.
- Take about 1/2 cup of the mashed potatoes and press into a flat disc in the palm of one hand. Place a piece of cheese in the center, and then wrap the mashed potatoes around the cheese, completely enclosing it.Shape the potatoes with your hands into the approximate form of (you guessed it!) a potato. Repeat with remaining potato mixture.
- Crack the eggs into a shallow bowl and whisk well to mix. In a separate shallow bowl, mix the flour, panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper, cumin, and smoked paprika (if using).
- Dip the potato croquettes into the egg to coat them, letting the excess drain off. Dip them into the seasoned bread crumbs. fully coating the croquette. Repeat with remaining croquettes.
- Heat several inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan to 350 degrees. Cook the croquettes in batches, turning them as needed, until they are golden brown. Carefully remove the potatoes from the oil and drain them on a paper towel-lined plate briefly before serving.
|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
|Total Fat||22 g|
|Saturated Fat||12 g|
|Unsaturated Fat||8 g|
|Dietary Fiber||2 g|