Authentic Colombian meat stuffed potatoes “papas rellenas” are a delicious and fulfilling breakfast. Crispy outside with soft mashed potatoes and well-seasoned meat inside.
This is a classic South American recipe. Papas rellenas are really popular in the Colombian cuisine, but they are also found in Chile, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Perú, and some parts of Venezuela.
This recipe can be a bit tricky to achieve the first time, but I will give you my best tricks for the perfect papas rellenas.
Also, I highly recommend you to make this recipe on a free day when you can do each step slowly.
I struggled a bit the first time because I rushed every step and the result was not nearly as good as shown in the pictures.
Papas rellenas has three major components. The meat stuffing, the potato dough, and the crispy outside.
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How to make the meat stuffing?
This is an easy and versatile ground meat recipe that I learned from my mother. It can be used for multiple recipes like Venezuelan arepas or empanadas, tacos, with pasta or rice.
It’s a basic recipe that can take you out of trouble many times. Also, you can prep meals in a big batch and have ready-to-serve ground meat for the week.
First, I cut an onion into cubes and I mince 2 big garlic cloves. This will be the base of the flavor.
In a big pan with a bit of olive oil, I cook the onion and the garlic for a minute until it is fragrant. Add 2 tbsp of tomato paste and cook for another minute. Then, toss the ground beef. Season with thyme, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir to distribute the seasoning evenly and cook for 10 minutes until the meat it’s fully cooked.
Optionally, you can add a hard-boiled egg crumbled into the meat at the end of the cooking process.
That’s it! Now onto the assembling process.
How to assemble papas rellenas?
The potatoes dough is made of plain boiled potatoes with salt. The tricky part is that the consistency must be perfect or otherwise the recipe will flop. This is the backbone of papas rellenas. It must be tender and fluffy like Italian gnocchi.
The potatoes must be firm but fork-tender. If they are too hard you’ll get a clumpy and hard-to-handle dough. But if they are too soft and mushy the dough will be so watery that it won’t resist the frying process and the papas rellenas will break into the oil.
For that reason, I cut the potatoes into same-size cubes to control the cooking process. I boil the potatoes for 20 minutes until they are fork-tender and firm. The water must be salty as if we were cooking pasta.
Another important tip is to let the potatoes chill completely. After the potatoes are cold it is time to mash them into a dough.
Using a plastic wrap (as in the picture below), and make flat circles of dough. If you have a tortilla maker, the process is way easier and you get better results.
Fill the circles with 1 to 2 tbsp of meat stuffing (the amount will depend on how big are your papas rellenas). Make a ball with the help of the plastic wrap (see in the pictures). Make sure that there is no stuffing sticking out. Use more potato dough if needed.
Take the balls into the fridge for at least 1 hour — you can even let them overnight. Don’t skip this step. This will give structure to the papas rellenas and it will make the frying process easier.
The final step is the crispy outside. The batter is pretty simple: 2 beaten eggs + ¼ cup flour. I mix these two ingredients until I get a homogeneous batter. Dip each ball and fry in enough oil.
You can totally use a deep fryer for this part of the recipe.
Finally, let the papas rellenas rest in absorbent paper. Serve along with some cilantro garlic sauce. Devour!!!
- 400 gr 14 0z ground meat
- 1 onion cut into cubes
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 hard-boiled egg optional
- 1 tbsp oil I use olive oil
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 5 big potatoes 500gr
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- Oil to fry I use canola oil
Peel and cut the potatoes into cubes. Boil them in salty water for 20 minutes until they are soft but not mushy. Let it chill completely.
In the meantime, heat a big pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion, and garlic. Cook for a minute and add the tomato paste. Stir to mix.
Add the ground meat and season with oregano, thyme, black pepper, and salt. Mix well and cook for about 10 minutes until the meat is fully cooked. Finally, add the hard-boiled egg crumble and mix.
Using a potato masher or a fork, mash the potatoes until they are smooth. Don’t worry if small clumps are left.
With the help of a plastic wrap, make flat circles with 4 tbsp of mashed potatoes (like in the pictures). Add about 2 tbsp of filling and close with the help of the plastic wrap (see the picture above). Make all the balls. Take them to the fridge for 1 hour at least.
In a bowl beat the eggs. Add the flour and mix well. Dip all the balls.
In a saucepan, add enough oil to cover the stuffed potatoes. You can use a deep fryer for an easier process. Fry each of the balls until they are golden and crispy. Place them on a plate with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Serve.
Owner and Food blogger on The Cookware Geek. She loves cooking, baking, traveling, playing with the cats, and knitting. She believes that eating delicious meals doesn’t require a culinary degree or a Michelin-star chef in your kitchen.