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Papas Rellenas and Salsa Criolla

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.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the Daring KitchenLast month with the Daring Cooks, it was Japanese (sigh…) and now Peruvian food!  Peru is a place I’d like to go to someday even though I don’t know much about it.  I hadn’t even thought a whole lot about Peruvian cuisine, but if it’s all as good as this experience, I want to go to there, stat.

This challenge actually featured a number of recipes (ceviche, papas rellenas, salsa criolla, and pisco sour), but we were only required to do the ceviche and/or the papas rellenas.  Even though I do eat fish, ceviche kind of freaks me out, so I nixed that one.  I’ve had chile rellenos, but hadn’t ever heard of the potato equivalent, so I was excited to try it.  Filled and fried mashed potatoes?  HECK YES.  I also made the salsa criolla because onions and I are buds.

potadough (har) and filling

Vegetarian Papas Rellenas
adapted from Bake Like A Ninja who adapted it from Vegan Good Eats

Since I’ve never had Peruvian food, I wanted to stay close to Kathlyn’s recipe even though we were encouraged to go wild with the fillings.  I used to hate sweet potatoes, but grew to love them over the last few years.  However, mashed isn’t my favorite, but I thought I’d give them a try here even though the recipe called for russet.  SO glad I did.  I also used kale instead of spinach, which shouldn’t be a surprise. :)

Dough:
5 pounds (3 large – 4 medium) sweet potatoes (I had 1 large, 1 ginormous)
½ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Lots of pepper
optional: I added about 1 teaspoon chipotle powder

Filling:
olive oil
1 cup diced onion (any color – I used yellow)
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ chili pepper, minced (Aji recommended – I used Fresno)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
1 cup cremini mushrooms, small dice
1 handful torn kale pieces
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup raisins, soaked in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes, then minced (I omitted these, but will try next time)
1 cup cooked quinoa
¼ c. white wine, water or stock for deglazing (I forgot to do this!)
Salt and pepper to taste

Final prep:
1 – 2 large egg(s), beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
Dash cayenne pepper
Dash salt
1 – 2 cups panko bread crumbs
Oil for frying (enough for 2” in a heavy pan like a medium sized dutch oven)

For the dough:

boil 'em, mash 'em, put 'em in a stew!

1. Boil unpeeled potatoes whole until tender when stuck with a fork.  Let potatoes cool.
2. When potatoes are cooled, peel them and either mash them with a potato masher, fork (what I used), or force them through a potato ricer (preferred).
3. Add cornstarch, salt and pepper, and chipotle powder if using.   Knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.  I just used a spoon for this.

While potatoes are cooling, make filling:

making the filling

1. In a large skillet, caramelize onions in olive oil for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and chili pepper and cook.
3. Add the cumin and paprika and cook briefly (a few seconds).
4. Add the mushrooms and kale and cook until soft/wilted.
5. Add black beans and raisins (if using).
6. Deglaze the pan with white wine, water, or stock.
7. Add the quinoa and season with salt and pepper.
8. Allow filling to cool before forming “papas.”

Finishing the dough, forming, and frying the papas:

1. Use three small bowls (or other shallow containers) to prepare the papas.   In one, combine flour, cayenne and salt.  In the second, beat the egg(s).  Put bread crumbs in the third.

filling the potatoes

2. Flour your hands and scoop up 1/6 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands.  (I made 3 large and 8 small.)  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 6 papas…or lots of little ones).
4. Heat 1 ½ – 2 inches of oil in a saucepan to about 350 – 375° F.

potato balls

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 get both sides.   (Mine were all completely submerged.)

FRIED!

7. Drain on paper towel and store in a 200°F oven if frying in batches.
8. Serve with salsa criolla (or other sauce of preference) immediately.

Salsa Criolla

Salsa Criolla
from Bake Like A Ninja and Vegan Good Eats

2 medium red onions, cut in half and very thinly sliced (as half-circles)
1/2 chili pepper (I used the other half of the Fresno)
1 tablespoon vinegar
Juice from 1 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
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.  I let mine sit overnight.

So this meal was INSANE.

Papas Rellenas and Salsa Criolla

The crust of the papas rellenas was light, crunchy, and not at all greasy.  The salsa is fantastic!  It definitely added a great spicy/sour contrast.

Look at that!

Now the inside…YES.  This is like all of my favorite things rolled up in a ball and fried (and yes, this made me a believer in mashed sweet potatoes).

NOM.

Verdict: Papas Rellenas = AMAZEBALLS.  Literally.  I only fried two of them and will be eating more tomorrow night with a friend (Hi, Jill!).  Also, the salsa was necessary.  Cilantro garnish is garnish.

Thanks so much for this challenge, Kathlyn!  I definitely wouldn’t have tried either of these things otherwise because I didn’t even know about them.  I’ll be coming back to these recipes for experimenting.  For all of the recipes posted by Kathlyn, including omnivorous versions, click here.

By the way, can anyone else totally see Paula Deen going nuts with these?  Now hey, y’all!  We’re gonna mix some cheese with some mashed potatoes, then fill them with fried bacon, more cheese, and a big hunk of butter.  And then we’re gonna roll ‘em in crushed Cheez-Its and fry ‘em in bacon fat!

Oh noes.  XD

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