Peruvian Papas Rellenas - The turkey that wasn't loved - A Daring Cooks' Challenge

Papas Rellenas
Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

Try telling a Portuguese man that the title of your next Daring Cook's challenge is ¡Me Encanta Perú! - Ceviche and Papas Rellenas (Translated: I love Peru - Ceviche and Papas Rellenas) and you'll get a weird look. Not only because I can't pronounce practically anything in Spanish let alone in Portuguese properly, but also because peru in Portuguese is turkey. Not, the country, but the silly (and delicious) bird.

This of course made me think of using ground turkey in my Papas Rellenas, but I decided against it (thanks to a look that said “Please don't do that to me and give me ground beef instead!”). I was excited none the less!

You see, where I live in Canada, they don't have much of a South American/southern North American type of community when it comes to food except for a Taco Bell (which doesn't count in that classification no matter where you live) unless I want to drive over 45 minutes away. If I want anything that's Hispanic/Latin in taste I must make it myself.

I grew up in and around Portland, Oregon where there are plenty of different cuisines and cultures and you can find close to any type of ethnic restaurant or store that you like. I have also lived in Oklahoma and could take a 20 minute drive to Texas for Tex-Mex food. But I rarely got a chance to make an authentic South American dish even then, as I could either go out for it for dinner or satisfy a craving for it by getting by on Americanized versions that I cook on my own.

Making a dish that is from Peru was a new and interesting idea plus it was a fabulous way to learn how to make something I've always wanted to and do it authentic! 

This is also part of the reason I did not make the ceviche, I wanted decent fresh fish/sea food to work with and make it authentic.However, this far inland that is just too much to ask money or quality wise (When we get to Portugal I promise to make Ceviche and share it will you all via photos!!).
Papas Rellenas

Papas Rellenas (de carne):

Makes 6


For the dough:
2¼ lb (1 kg) russet potatoes
1 large egg
For the filling:
2 tablespoon (30 ml) of a light flavored oil
½ lb (250 grams) ground (minced) beef
6 black olives, pitted and chopped (use more if you love olives)
3 hard boiled large eggs, chopped
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1 cup (240 ml))
½ cup (120 ml) (90 gm) (3 oz) raisins, soaked in 1 cup (240 ml) boiling water for 10 minutes, then minced
1 finely diced aji pepper (ok to sub jalapeño or other pepper – if you are shy about heat, use less)
2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a press (if you love garlic, add more)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) (1/8 oz) ground cumin (use more if you like cumin)
½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) (2 gm) (1/16 oz) sweet paprika
¼ c. white wine, water or beef stock for deglazing
Salt and pepper to taste
For the final preparation:
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
Dash cayenne pepper
Dash salt
1 cup dry (240 ml) (110 gm) (4 oz) or fresh (240 ml) (60 gm) (2 oz) bread crumbs (you can use regular, panko, make your own or use store-bought)
Oil for frying (enough for 2” (50 mm) in a heavy pan like a medium sized dutch oven)


In order to save time, you can boil the potatoes, and while they are cooling, you can make the filling. While that is cooling, you can make the potato “dough.” In this way, little time is spent waiting for anything to cool.
For the dough:
  1. Boil the potatoes until they pierce easily with a fork. Remove them from the water and cool.
  2. Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them and mash them with a potato masher or force them through a potato ricer (preferred).
  3. Add egg, salt and pepper and knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.
While the potatoes cool down before finishing the dough, you can make the filling:
  1. Gently brown onion and garlic in oil (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add the chili pepper and sauté for a couple more minutes.
  3. Add ground beef and brown.
  4. Add raisins, cumin and paprika and cook briefly (a few seconds).
  5. Deglaze the pan with white wine.
  6. Add olives and cook for a few moments longer.
  7. Add hard boiled eggs and fold in off heat.
  8. Allow filling to cool before forming “papas.”
Forming and frying the papas:
  1. Use three small bowls to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt. In the second, a beaten egg with a tiny bit of water. Put bread crumbs in the third
  2. Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands. Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling.
  3. Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center and then roll the potato closed, forming a smooth, potato-shaped casing around the filling. Repeat with all dough (you should have about 6 papas).
  4. Heat 1 ½ - 2 inches (4 – 5 cm) of oil in a pan to about 350 – 375° F (175 - 190°C).
  5. Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs.
  6. Fry the papas (in batches if necessary) about 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Flip once in the middle of frying to brown both sides.
  7. Drain on paper towel and store in a 200ºF (95ºC) (gas mark ¼) oven if frying in batches.
  8. Serve with salsa criolla (or other sauce of preference) immediately. 
Papas Rellenas

If you've been looking at my Papas Rellenas closely, you'll notice that they don't look like they were fried. That's because they weren't! Just omit the oil for frying and directions 6 and 7 then bake them on a baking sheet in the oven for about 30 - 40 minutes or until lightly golden on the out side at 350F, turning once half way through cooking. 

TIP: Be careful not to over cook your potatoes before you mash them. They will get gluey... Yes I said GLUEY. They are difficult to get off your hands and a general pain to work with that way but it can be done if need be.

I also made about 13 of these delicious balls of goodness and they were fairly big still. They could easily make 24 with this recipe and used as large appetizers.

Just make sure to add some of this Salsa Criolla to each one for the perfect bite!

Salsa Criolla:


2 medium red onions, cut in half and very thinly sliced (as half-circles)
1/2 chili pepper (your preference)
1 tablespoon vinegar
Juice from 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Soak the onions in cold salt water for about 10 minutes to remove bitterness. Drain.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the onions with the rest of the ingredients, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for the onions to macerate and the flavors to combine
The recipes above are straight from The Daring Kitchen post for this month's challenge. If you would like to check out what the others have done and the recipes please go to The Daring Kitchen website!

Papas Rellenas were crunchy on the outside and full of flavor on the inside even when baked and not fried. They also are pretty healthy minus the frying but you don't feel deprived by doing it that way versus frying them. They were a hit with everyone and the salsa was a perfect spicy and tangy addition if you get a bit of it with a bite of rellena!


Audax said...

You baked them that is outstanding the colour of the crust is stunning and yes these are very healthy if not deep fried. Great job on this challenge.

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Yours look great! Love that you baked them and made them smaller - ours were HUGE!

Anonymous said...

These look and sound great I would like to try them.

sarah said...

Baking the papa rellenas is a great idea. I rebelled at the idea of deep frying, too. For the ceviche, I bought sashimi salmon, because then I could be sure it was fresh enough. I would like to try it again one day with white fish--when I can get it fresh. Well done--beautiful photos.

Anonymous said...

I am glad you put in the instructions for baking them. I was going to experiment, the next time I am making these, by baking them. Your food looks absolutely delicious!

blepharisma said...

OK, good - someone baked them!!! I need to try that next. Good job! I love the Turkey comment... hilarious!

Anonymous said...

Different version of our papas rellenas...ut yours is quite healthy. Happy to have joined your blog.

Renata said...

You got a beautiful crust on your baked Papas! They look delicious! Very thoughtful to want to fill your Papas with perú (turkey) :o)

shelley c. said...

What a great idea to bake the papas - so much healthier! And funny that peru means turkey - I can totally imagine he was a little confused at first! You did a great job, and your pictures are fantastic. Awesome!

Junglefrog said...

O that is so funny! I would have never guessed that peru meant Turkey in Portuguese! :) I can see why you didn't go for the ceviche but your papas look absolutely delicious!
I've been to Portland a couple of times and you're right; loads of foods to choose from!

Kathlyn said...

The papas are beautiful! Love the photos here. Kind of sorry you didn't try turkey filling (although I understand completely). The vegan filling is really worth a try as well (best not to mention it to the honey if you go for it I think!)

Great thing about doing the ceviche in the future is that it really doesn't take very long - about 20 minutes and you're done! :)


doggybloggy said...

beautifully cooked...these look so good....

Ruth H. said...

I love th color you got on the baked papas! I would like to try that next time - I am not a huge fan of frying, or the smell of the oil that lingers...! What a beautiful job you did on this challenge! Thank you for sharing.

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Gorgeous papas rellenas and I can't wait to see a Portuguese ceviche!!! :-)

Creating Nirvana said...

Nice job on this challenge! I understand the lack of sea food. :( Your papas looks great baked. I will have to try that next time.

lois said...

great idea to bake the papas! I should try it!

chef_d said...

Great idea to bake them! Love how they turned out looking perfect!

penny aka jeroxie said...

Oh My! what a lovely idea. very lovely dish.

Pegasuslegend said...

I have not only never had or heard of these, but of course now I must try them and have to! lovely!

Anonymous said...

Looks great! Very nicely done.

Mother Rimmy said...

My mouth waters just looking at these. Great job and I just love that you baked these!


Anonymous said...

Yum! I don't know much about it, but Peruvian food fascinates me. And guess what? I'm from Portland, too! Small world!

Susi's Kochen und Backen said...

They look fantastic and unlike anything I have ever eaten, but I'd be sure willing to give them a try :o)

spontaneous-euphoria said...

YUM!! that looks great!