Papas Rellenas

(March 15, 2019) Procrastination is the root of indolence and should be reduced if success is to flourish.

However, others might argue that savoring the flavors of hesitation produces a structured deferment. In other words, they will get to it on their own time.

No matter your point of view, what is important is to recognize that all procrastination is delay but not all delay is procrastination. There are many types of delay and some are necessary for fruitful progression.

For example, talent is a virtue of varying degrees and therefore accomplishment fluctuates with each individual.

In this instance, time is subjective and we need to encourage creativity but also allow one to follow their dreams at their own pace.

With that thought in mind, let us turn our attention to Papas Rellenas. This South American and Caribbean dish is a treasure that literally translates to “stuffed potato” and that’s exactly what they are.

These delicious meatballs are traditionally encased in mashed potatoes and then deep fried for a crunchy exterior. They can be served as an appetizer or as a main meal.

Even though they originated in Peru, you will find various versions of Papas Rellenas from Chili to Cuba.

Ingenuity is a great thing, even when it comes to meatballs. The outer coating of mashed potatoes can be replaced with mashed plantains or cooked yucca. You can even substitute a vegetarian stuffing for the meat filling.

In other words, the possibilities are endless so allow your personal preference to be your inspiration.

The following recipe is a bit time consuming but the results are well worthwhile. Papas Rellanas gives new insight to what we perceive as the “classic” meatball.

As we transition from winter to spring, consider adding Papas Rellanas to your menu. This delicious delight is sure to wow your guests, adults and kids alike.

Papas Rellenas can be served plain or with salsa or an avocado sauce. Enjoy!

Papas Rellenas

Mashed Potatoes

Cook 4 pounds of Russet potatoes according to your favorite mashed potato recipe, Set aside.

Note: The mashed potato consistency should be on the heavier side as opposed to light and fluffy. The lighter mashed potatoes are harder to work with.

Meat Filling

2 pounds ground beef

1 cup olive oil

2 cups yellow onions, coarsely chopped

8 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons pimentos

3 Roma tomatoes, ends removed, seeded, and coarsely chopped

2 stalks celery including the leafy part, coarsely chopped

1 ½ poblano peppers, stems and seeds removed, and coarsely chopped

1 jalapeno, stem removed, seeded, and coarsely chopped

13 green olives

13 salt cured black olives, seeds removed

1/2 cup raisins, plus 2 teaspoons

1 tablespoon each ground cumin, dried oregano, and smoked paprika

2 teaspoons each finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, cilantro

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

4 eggs

4 teaspoons water

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups unseasoned panko breadcrumbs

canola oil for frying

1. In a large sauté pan, add ½ cup olive oil and cook beef over medium-high heat until well done. Strain fat and set meat aside.

2. Place onions, garlic, pimentos, tomatoes, celery, poblano peppers, jalapeno, olives and raisins into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

3. In the same pan that the meat was cooked in, add the remaining oil and sauté vegetable mixture for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add seasonings, parsley, cilantro and meat. Mix until all the ingredients are fully incorporated.

4. Combine all-purpose flour and panko in a pie plate. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and water.

5. Place a small amount of mashed potatoes in your hand and form into a little “bowl.” The size depends on whether you are serving the Papas Rellenas as an appetizer or main course.

Fill the “bowl” with meat filling and cover with mashed potatoes. The meat filling should be completely encased in the mashed potatoes.

Using both hands, roll the Papas Rellena until a perfect “ball” shape and a smooth surface is obtained.

6. Dip the ball into the beaten egg mixture and allow excess to drip off, and then roll in the flour/panko mixture until completely covered.

Dip the Papas Rellana again, so it has a double coating of breadcrumb mixture. Repeat this process for the remaining mashed potatoes and beef filling.

7. Add enough oil to a heavy skillet to cover the Papas Rellanas. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot, but not smoking hot. Carefully place the coated balls into the oil, do not overcrowd the pan or the temperature of the oil will drop, resulting in soggy fried balls.

Fry until all sides are golden brown. Place the Papas Rellanas on a cooling rack and sprinkle with salt. Allow to rest for one minute and serve immediately.

Secret Ingredient – Time. “Nothing is a waste of time if we use the experience wisely.”

– Rodi

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