Whether you’re serving this as a main course, snack, or appetizer, these Bolivian-style Stuffed Potatoes or Rellenos de Papa will please your tastebuds in all possible ways. It’s filled with seasoned ground beef, carrots, peas, and a slice of boiled egg, then wrapped in creamy mashed potatoes and served with a special Bolivian hot sauce – Llajua. What an explosion of flavors!
Today we are taking a trip to Bolivia to discover one of the most traditional Latin American dishes.
The Bolivian-style stuffed potatoes are well-known widely across the region and are served as a snack, appetizer or even as a main dish.
Let’s be honest, though, who wouldn’t want to fall in love with that kind of dish.
WHAT ARE BOLIVIAN-STYLE RELLENOS DE PAPA?
Bolivian stuffed potatoes are mashed potatoes filled with seasoned ground meat like beef, pork, chicken OR could be cheese, ham, boiled egg, shredded chicken, seafood, or vegetables. Once they are filled, they can either be fried or baked.
In cities like Cochabamba, the most common filling is ground beef or minced beef with boiled egg, which gives it a very special touch.
One bite of these mashed potato croquettes and you’ll transport yourself to Bolivia!
WHY SHOULD YOU MAKE THIS?
Although stuffed potatoes are found in several Latin American countries, you don’t want to miss out on this Rellenos de papa Bolivia-style.
✔️ It’s brimming with flavors.
✔️ It’s a fun and easy dish to prepare.
✔️ Both the mashed potatoes and filling can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
✔️ You can make them into any size that works for you.
✔️ That Bolivian hot sauce paired with these mashed potato croquettes is everything!
WHAT TYPE OF POTATO IS BEST FOR STUFFED MASHED POTATOES?
In Bolivia, as well as in many parts of the world, potatoes are one of the most consumed staple foods. They have become an essential part of the local cuisine due to their high nutritional value and flavor.
Therefore, stuffed potatoes can be found in most restaurants, bakeries, and street food stands. But why pay that much when you can make it at home?
Now I’m quite picky with the type of potatoes whenever I make Rellenos de papa.
Russet potatoes are the best choice for this recipe. They are already flavorful even without the extras and are starchy enough to create their own binder even after they’re mashed. The last part is very important as we want our stuffed potatoes to hold together during and after frying.
BOLIVIAN STUFFED POTATOES/RELLENOS DE PAPA INGREDIENTS
- Potatoes – the star of the show. This time we’re using Russet potatoes that are starchy enough for that creamy goodness taste while holding its shape together.
- Ground Beef – often called minced beef, you may replace this meat with ground pork or chicken instead.
- Oil – used to saute our ingredients to deep-fry the shaped rellenos de papa.
- Garlic and Onion – adds that nice flavor and aroma to our meat filling
- Bell Pepper – for added crunch and a touch of sweet spicy flavor.
- Carrots and Peas – although optional, adding these vegetables – carrots and peas- make this popular snack/appetizer a complete meal on its own.
- Olives – go for green olives if you want a lovely nutty flavor, and black if you want a mild and slightly flavor to your ground beef filling.
- Eggs – just like these Argentinian empanadas, you can always add sliced hard-boiled eggs into your filling to make it more fitting for a king-like breakfast!
- Salt, Oregano, and Pepper – to season our stuffed potatoes meat filling
- Wheat Flour – is made from grinding up all parts of the grain. It serves as the base for our batter and provides structure for our fried stuffed potatoes. One of the best examples for wheat flour, which shouldn’t be confused with whole wheat flour, is an all-purpose flour.
- Egg – it serves as the binding agent for our batter.
- Water – is used to achieve a soft sticky consistency for our batter.
- Salt and Pepper – to season our batter separately
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO MASHED POTATOES FOR RELLENOS DE PAPA?
Potato mashers often get a bad rap for leaving lumps which is a NO NO when it comes to making mashed potatoes.
Well, the secret to achieving a creamy smooth-textured mashed potato is to be methodical with your mashing by getting into every corner of the pot or bowl while pressing and twisting the masher as you go. You may add a wee little amount of liquid as you mashed them.
On the other hand, if you don’t have a masher yet and are still planning to buy, I’d say go for a potato ricer instead. It’s like a presser tool where you put a potato in a hopper and push it through small holes resulting in rice-like pieces, thus the name. This tool somehow produces a fluffier and smoother potato.
HOW HOT DOES MY OIL HAVE TO BE WHEN FRYING PAPAS RELLENOS?
I don’t recommend heating up the oil while forming the Rellenos. This will make you feel rushed resulting in messy-looking stuffed potatoes.
Heating the oil after you assemble everything gives you enough time to prepare your working space for the last part which is dipping the potatoes in egg and wheat flour batter.
To make sure that your oil is hot enough, drop a small piece of any leftover mashed potatoes mixture. If it floats onto the surface, then you’re good to go.
For those who want accurate numbers, the oil temperature should be between 350°F (177°C) to 375°F (190°C). Any lower than that will result in soggy Rellenos, and higher than 375°F will result in burned Rellenos while leaving the inside unheated.
MY RELLENOS ARE BREAKING APART. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
There are a few other reasons why your Rellenos could be breaking apart. Here’s how to remedy them.
1. Your oil isn’t hot enough. Make sure you do the oil test before you start frying or check the instant-read thermometer if it reads between 350°F / 177°C to 375°F / 190°C.
2. You added too many eggs. If this happens, place your assembled Rellenos de papas in a sheet pan and pop them in the fridge for about an hour. This should give them enough time to hold up well together. I know, It may be a little tempting sometimes to add in a few more of this and that, but if you follow the recipe to a T, you’ll be good.
3. You’re frying them in a crowded pan. One of the golden rules when deep-frying is never ever overcrowding your pan. Fry them in batches – about 1-2 depending on the size of your stuffed potatoes.
CAN I BAKE THESE STUFFED POTATOES?
Yes, absolutely! If you want a healthier take on this recipe, feel free to bake them. What I’d do is to pop them in the fridge first to cool for about an hour. Then, take them out and brush them with oil. Place them on a parchment-lined sheet pan (about half an inch apart), and bake them in a preheated oven at 450°F for 15-20 minutes.
I couldn’t stress enough how handy this recipe is, especially when made a day in advance.
To make this dish ahead of time…
1. You can prepare the ground beef filling a day before, let it cool completely before storing it in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
2. You may assemble everything (except for dipping them in batter), and place them on a lightly greased sheet pan. Pop them in the fridge up until 2-3 days. Or freeze them for about an hour or two until hard to touch. And then take them all out, transfer them in a freezer-safe container and freeze the assembled Rellenos de papa for up to 6 months.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH RELLENOS DE PAPA?
The best way to enjoy these delightful stuffed potatoes is with Bolivia’s Llajua sauce; a spicy tomato-chili sauce (see recipe below) which is found at every food stall in Bolivia.
But don’t limit yourself to that.
MORE POTATO RECIPES TO ENJOY
Can’t get enough potatoes? You’re going to love these other potato recipes as well…
BOLIVIAN STUFFED POTATOES (RELLENOS DE PAPA)
FOR THE STUFFED POTATOES:
- 2 pounds Potatoes
- 2 tablespoons Oil
- 1 Red onion cut into small squares
- 4 cloves Garlic crushed
- 1 Chili bell pepper or yellow chili
- 1 ⅛ pound Ground beef
- 2 Carrots cut into cubes
- ¼ cup Peas
- ½ teaspoon Oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 5 Black or green olives pitted and chopped
- 3 Cooked eggs chopped
- Enough oil for frying
FOR THE BATTER:
- 1 ½ cups Wheat flour
- 1 Egg
- ½ cup Water
- Salt and pepper
FOR THE LLAJUA SAUCE INGREDIENTS:
- 4 Ripe tomatoes
- 2 Aji locoto peppers deveined and grated
- 3 tablespoons Neutral oil
- Salt to taste
PREPARING THE STUFFED POTATO FILLING
- Place a pot with water and salt over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until it comes to a boil, then add the washed and peeled potatoes. Let them cook for about 30 minutes or until they are soft, but not overcooked.
- Place a frying pan over medium-low heat with 2 tablespoons of oil for about 2 minutes, then add the onion and garlic, until they are transparent.
- Then add the yellow chili, and after about 2 more minutes add the meat, and let it cook for 5 minutes. Add the carrot and the peas, season with salt, pepper, oregano, stir everything constantly, and leave it cook for about 20 more minutes, remove from the fire. Set aside.
- Drain the potatoes and mash them when they are still hot with a fork or a potato masher. Set aside to cool down a little bit.
- In a bowl, prepare the batter with wheat flour, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix with a whisk so that the ingredients are well integrated, and set aside. (If the mixture is too thick, you can add a little bit more water and if it is too thin, add more wheat flour).
ASSEMBLING AND FRYING THE RELLENOS DE PAPA/STUFFED POTATOES
- Knead the mashed potatoes with your hands so that there are no lumps. Then, take a plastic paper (it can be a bag), add a little oil, and then place the ball of mashed potatoes on it. With your hands, flatten the ball or a tortilla press so that it is neither too thick nor too thin.
- Place the meat, a slice of boiled egg, and olive in the center. Then with your hands, fold the bag building a nice oval shape, making sure all sides are nicely covered so that the filling does not come out while frying. Repeat it with the rest – you can make around 7 medium-sized pieces.
- Place a frying pan with enough oil over medium heat. You can test if the oil is hot enough by dropping a small piece of any leftover potatoes mixture or some breadcrumbs, and if it floats onto the top of the oil and bubbles, then it is ready to be used.
- Dip the stuffed potato in the egg and wheat flour mixture with the help of a spoon so that it is all covered with the mixture.
- Then add the potatoes and let them cook until they are golden brown on all sides for about 5 minutes approximately. Once they are golden brown, take them out of the pan and place them on a plate with absorbent paper to remove excess fat.
- Serve the potato stuffing with Llajua sauce (Bolivian hot sauce).
HOW TO MAKE THE LLAJUA SAUCE
- In a food processor or blender, add the tomatoes and chili peppers, blend until well crushed, then add the oil and salt.
- Serve in a small bowl, cover it, and put it in the refrigerator for about 1 hour so that the flavors concentrate.
- If the mixture is too thick, you can add a little bit more water and if it is too thin, add more wheat flour.
- These delicious stuffed potatoes are served as a starter accompanied with the sauce of your preference, especially the llajua sauce or as a side dish usually at lunchtime with rice and a shredded salad (shredded cabbage or shredded cabbage and shredded carrot) seasoned with salt, oil and white or fruit vinegar.)
- Feel free to add raisins, ham, bacon, or cheese into the filling to make every bite of these stuffed potatoes more enjoyable.