Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Deconstructed Papas Rellenas (Cuban Beef and Potato Stuffing)

I love a good meat and potato dish. This Cuban Beef and Potato stuffing is a play on the traditional papas rellenas or meat stuffed potato ball. If you live in the Los Angeles area, you probably are familiar with Porto's Bakery (and if you haven't, you must!). Porto's is a Cuban bakery that makes the tastiest Cuban pastries and cakes. They also have these deep fried mashed potato balls stuffed with a ground beef mixture. And let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've tried one of these!

While I love the holidays and all the traditional foods that are associated with it, sometimes, I believe you need a little spice in your life (and no, pumpkin spice does not count). Enter, this non-traditional stuffing. A deconstructed papas rellenas. A good Cuban dish requires a sofrito, think of it as the Cuban equivalent to a mirepoix (the aromatic base of any good soup or stew; carrots, onions, celery), except sofrito consists of onions, bell peppers, and garlic. You'll want to sweat and caramelize the onions first, then add the peppers and garlic last. Trust me, this extra little step will make this dish pop!

Deconstructed Papas Rellenas (Cuban Beef and Potato Stuffing)

What you'll need:

  • 2-3 small to medium white sweet potato (or any potato can be subbed), cubed
  • olive/avocado oil, salt and pepper to season the potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 5-6 sweet mini peppers (or one medium bell pepper), finely diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar or fresh lime juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • (start with 1/2 tsp) salt and pepper, to taste
  • fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2-3 tbsp golden raisins (optional)

What to do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Toss the cubed potatoes with 1-2 tbsp oil, massaging the oil into the potatoes thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the potatoes in one (1) even layer on a silicone lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes at 425F, tossing once about half way through. 
  2. While the potatoes are roasting, heat a large skillet over medium high heat with 1-2 tbsp oil. Add the onions. Sweat the onions until they start to caramelize and are fragrant, about 5-6 minutes. Add the peppers, then the garlic. Stir. Cook for another 1-2 minutes.  
  3. Add the ground beef. Break up the chunks. *Note: I add a little ground beef at a time, breaking up the chunks, as to not overcrowd the pan which could lead to steaming of the mixture and not sauteing*
  4. Season the mixture with paprika, cumin, cayenne (if using), and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Once most of the meat has browned, add the apple cider vinegar/lime juice. Then the tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer and add the bay leaf. 
  5. Simmer the mixture on medium low for about 15-20 minutes. 
  6. Once potatoes have finished roasting, remove from oven and set aside. Season the ground beef mixture with more salt/pepper, to taste. Stir in golden raisins (if preferred, but highly recommended). Add the potatoes and garnish with chopped cilantro. 


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