No long-winded post today… just a long-winded recipe! These delicious potato croquettes are most likely rooted in French classical cuisine; it seems to have appeared in the 19th century, when many Europeans (and French chefs) immigrated to Peru.
The name is somewhat of a misnomer: it’s actually a combination of papa and yuca rellena. You can use all potato, or all yucca; but I think the blending provides the tenderness and sweetness of potato, as well as the firmness and distinctive taste of yucca – the best of both worlds!
Papa rellena make an excellent hors d’œuvre, or a delicious light meal or snack.
Potato Dough (yields about 8 croquettes):
- Yellow or white potato 2 pounds
- Yucca (cassava), frozen, defrosted 1 pound
- Lemon juice ½ of 1 lemon
- Butter 2 Tbsp. (1 oz.)
- Salt ½ tsp. (to taste)
- White pepper ¼ tsp. (to taste)
Filling (yields enough to fill 2 batches potato dough):
- Olive oil, extra virgin 2 Tbsp.
- Beef (ground or finely minced) 1 pound
- Pork (ground or finely minced) 1 pound
- Yellow onion, small dice 1 large
- Garlic, minced 5 large cloves
- Plumn tomato, small dice 4 each
- Eggs, whole 4 each
- Black olives, pitted ½ cup
- Paprika 1 tsp.
- Sazon seasoning 1 envelope
- Salt ½ tsp. (to taste)
- Black pepper ½ tsp. (to taste)
- All-purpose flour 1 cup
- Eggs, beaten 3 each
- Bread crumbs 1 cup
- Peel potatoes; cut in eighths, and place in cold salted water.
- Place the yucca into a pot with cold salted water and the juice of half a lemon; place the lemon itself into the water.
- Bring yucca to a rapid boil; after 10 minutes, add the potatoes and eggs. Boil for 15 more minutes. (If potatoes and yucca are not done, remove eggs and continue cooking potatoes and yucca. They should be fork-tender, but not mushy.)
- Drain potatoes and yucca; place hard-boiled eggs in cold water to cool.
- Remove fibrous strings from yucca.
- Run potato and yucca through a food mill (or mash finely with a ricer, or pass through a tamis). While still warm, mix in the butter, salt and white pepper (to taste). Blend well.
- Set aside to cool.
- When cool, flour your hands and a work surface; knead the potato by hand until it becomes a smooth dough without any lumps.
- Cover with plastic until ready to use.
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Thoroughly brown the meat; remove with a slotted spoon, and reserve.
- Remove all beef fat except a thin coating on the bottom of the pan (about 2 Tbsp).
- Turn heat down to medium; sauté the onion until lightly caramelized (about 7-8 minutes).
- Add the garlic, tomato, paprika and Sazon; simmer until liquid evaporates (about 6-7 more minutes).
- Add beef back to the pan; stir to combine.
- Remove from heat, and pour into a bowl; set aside to cool.
- Peel and dice the eggs. Dice the olive. Add to the meat, and mix well.
- Dust a half-cup measure with flour; scoop out ½ cup of the potato onto the floured surface. Liberally dust all sides with flour.
- Place the scooped potato dough into a well-floured, shallow bowl. Make a well in the center.
- Place 1 Tbsp. of filling into the well. Do not overfill, and pack down gently with a spoon.
- Make a flat dough “hat” to cover the filling. Press gently to seal the edges. Invert the bowl, and pop out the croquette onto the floured surface.
- Flour your hands, and gently round the sides with your palms. The traditional shape is that of a football (though I make them in a “puck” shape to optimize the frying surface of the croquette).
- Dust the croquette with flour; place on a floured plate or sheet pan.
- Repeat until potato dough is used up.
- Bread the croquettes using standard breading procedure (SBP); place on a plate.
- Fry in about ½” of oil. Flip very gently with a fish spatula (using two spatulas if necessary) to avoid splashing the oil.
- Serve immediately with salsa criolla (and mayonesa de ají, if desired)
- This recipe makes double the amount of filling than is necessary. I always make extra! You can half the filling recipe… or you can stuff peppers or top rice with the extra. Or, freeze the remaining filling in a Ziploc bag for up to 1 month.
- Do not purée the potato – you will be left with glue! Mash and work the potato by hand.
- If not serving immediately, hold on a rack in a warm oven (140°-160° F) with the door open a crack to vent condensation. Alternately, you can place in a paper bag (placed on a sheet pan) in a warm, open oven.
- Freeze leftover croquettes, and reheat in a 350° F oven for 15-20 minutes.
- If using fresh yucca, remove tough peel with a sharp knife; then cut into 4 pieces. Boil in salted water with the juice of ½ a lemon for 20-25 minutes / until fork tender. Cook separately from potato.
- You can cook the potato, yucca and egg separately; I find it much easier to cook them all at once.
- You can omit the pork and use all beef, if you prefer.
- Use Peruvian or kalamata olives, if possible.
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Recipe by Jennifer Ramos Lorson.