Papa Rellena Recipe with Pictures


Like every other Cuban mother out there, I am constantly aware of my charges. That is, I’m constantly trying to stay one step ahead of my family. I’m always anticipating their needs and their wants and their ‘antojos.”

Please understand that I’m not trying to brag here. This is just how our own Cuban mother groomed my sisters and me. I know you know what I’m talking about. It goes something like this: Mami is making a big dinner of Masitas de Puerco, pero Papi prefiere bistec, so Mami will not only make the Masitas (and they will turn out perfectly delicious, of course, but that’s not important right now) but Papi will definitely also get his bistec, too, made to his specifications. It's the way it's always been. It's how it will always be. Cuban mothers are GIVERS.

I’m really not as pro as my mom was in the food-distribution wars. I know what my family will want; I just stretch it out and work to make sure to put it into the rotation. 

For example: I made picadillo on Monday, and boiled the potatoes while the picadillo was cooking so that I could make Papas Rellenas for Tuesday with the leftover picadillo. Are you following? I’m constantly multi-tasking and trying to second-guess what my family will be enjoying next.

Here's how I plan my Cuban menu for the week:

  • Monday - Picadillo - The picadillo becomes the filling for Tuesday’s Papas Rellenas,
  • Tuesday - I'll serve those Papas Rellenas as a companion to Crockpot Lechon
  • On Wednesday the pork goes into some Fried Rice with Pork,
  • Thursday you'll still have leftover Pork but only enough to go into Cuban sandwiches.

It's all about planning....

All that to say this: My family will be eating well this week and and they will praise me with great praise and I’ll demurely brush it aside with “It was nothing…”  When really all it took was some preparation and forethought. And bada-boom! It’s Papas Rellenas. And that’s what I call Cuban multi-tasking!

What about Friday? I know you're asking about Friday. Friday my grateful husband takes me out and lets someone else do the cooking - it's called..... A Date. 

That is all.

Papas Rellenas

  • About 6 baking potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Parsley for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp. Warm milk ( maybe slightly more - warm a little milk in a small cup for this part)
  • PICADILLO (leftover from the stuff you made last night.)
  • 2 eggs, beaten with 1 Tbsp. Water
  • 1-2 cups Corn Flake Crumbs
  • Oil for frying

(originally posted on Babalú Blog. May 2008.)

1) Boil potatoes until they are fully cooked.

2) Drain.

3) Mash the potatoes – by hand along with the salt , garlic powder and warm milk. DO NOT ADD ANY BUTTER.

4) Let cool just until you can handle them with lightly greased hands.

5) Grab a handful of the mashed potatoes and make a little bowl (about the size of half a large golf ball), making an indentation in it.

6) Do that again. Stuff the indentations with picadillo and bring the two halves together and smooth the outside. You should have a cute little picadillo-stuffed potato at this point.

7) You can make these whatever size you like, actually. Repeat until you’re out of potatoes or picadillo. 

8) Beat the eggs with water until they are a little fluffy.

9) Dip the papa rellena into the beaten egg, then roll in the corn flake crumbs mixture until lightly covered.

10) Dip a second time in the egg mixture and again in the bread crumbs.

11) Cover the rellenas and refrigerate for at least 3 or 4 hours or overnight before the next part!!!

Take them out of the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature before frying.

12) Fill a large frying pan with enough oil to cover half a ball.

13)Fry each ball at least 2 minutes per side, turning once – or at least til they’re golden brown. (color is everything!)

You can serve them hot or cold, as appetizers or as a main dish. Amy Kikita likes hers with grilled onions served over the warm potato. You can also spice up the bread crumb mixture if you like.

God, I love Cuban food! (yes, that was a prayer. =D)