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Cuban Food - Cubangirl - 02-15-2009

Hi folks, I thought I would start a new thread so it would be easier to find later rather than leaving it on the Happy Birthday thread.

I love Papas Rellenas too. I don't have the recipe typed, but will post it when I do. There is one that looks very good in the Estefan Kitchen cookbook (I just finished reading it, so the recipes are fresh in my mind. I am sure other Cuban cookbooks such as Memories of a Cuban Kitchen would have it as well.) I have some picadillo in the freezer, some I'll use for the empanadas for my trip, but some I'll make papas rellenas when I return. I normally make my mashed pots from scratch, but I have some Yukon Gold Idaho Potato Flakes I bought for CC's Salisbury Steak, so I may just use those. You make the mashed pots, cool them, scoop some out and shape like a half ball, make a hole in the center, add filling, do exactly the same with the other half and put together, making sure all the meat is covered by the potatoes. You then coat with beaten egg and then breadcrumbs (I like to use Cuban cracker breadcrumbs, but any fine grained dry breadcrumb will do.) and fry unitl golden brown. I am posting my picadillo recipe, because I do have that one already typed and I am sure you can make the pots.
1 Medium to large onion chopped small
Good pinch of kosher salt
½ cup Good dry sherry
3 Garlic cloves (large) (or 1½ tsp granulated garlic)
½ Green bell pepper seeded, washed and dried
¼ tsp Cumin
¼ tsp Dried oregano leaves
½ 8 ounce can Tomato Sauce (use more if want more sauce)
¼ cup Ketchup (optional) or can use all Ketchup and no tomato sauce
1½-3 Lbs. Lean ground beef
15 ounces Raisins (2 to 3 small boxes)
Spanish olives with pimentos, a handful, cut in small pieces

Sauté onion, pepper and garlic, cumin and oregano, in dry wine for about 5 to 10 minutes, until soft. Add tomato sauce and mix well. Add ketchup if using. (Amount of tomato sauce can be varied depending on how much ground beef is used) Add ground beef breaking up as you mix with onion mixture and add the salt. (Use more of less salt depending on how many olives you use, as they are salty). Add olives and raisins. (Proportions of these can be changed to taste. I like about equal amounts.) Cover and cook for 20 minutes on low heat. The ground beef and onions should absorb most of the liquid. This is not like an Italian meat sauce, but rather flavored beef with some liquid. It is important that it not be very wet when used for empanadas or papas rellenas. (If using beef with higher fat content, pre cook beef slightly and drain excess fat.) I usually make the larger amount, use the Picadillo to eat with white rice (with an added splash of sherry vinegar to the Picadillo right before serving) and a fried egg on top (called Picadillo a caballo) the first day and use the leftover for empanada or filling for papas rellenas.

This recipe was created as I watched my mother make this and I guessed since she never measures anything. I tried to put finite quantities for my daughter, but I eyeball most of it as well, so it is always a bit different. If you take the first 8 ingredients (+ olive oil sometimes), you have a sofrito which is the beginning of most Cuban savory dishes. You will see there is no hot pepper of any kind. Cuban food is never peppery hot, though we use a lot of bell peppers. Please let me know what you think if you make it.

Re: Cuban Food - cjs - 02-15-2009

Well now, I'm conflicted! (in a good way) I have picadillo in the freezer from the last batch of empanadas, but I do want to try yours for the Papas Rellenas....

thanks for posting this.

Re: Cuban Food - Mare749 - 02-15-2009

Oh my, I'm lovin' this thread already. Thanks CG, can't wait to see more!


Re: Cuban Food - Lorraine - 02-15-2009

That sounds really, really good!

Re: Cuban Food - labradors - 02-15-2009

These are going onto my list for next weekend (the potatoes are better and less expensive at the farmers market which is only open Friday and Saturday).

One warning for those who have never had these before: The ones I always got in Orlando (which were the size of baseballs) were VERY filling, and could almost be a lunch just by themselves, or as a dinner side for something not too heavy.

Oh, yeah - and they are ADDICTIVE, as well!

Re: Cuban Food - Cubangirl - 02-16-2009

Yes the papas are addictive. We used to have the big ones for dinner and the smaller size can be used for appetizers. Obviously, it is easier to make fewer big ones. They are filling. In typical Cuban style, we used to have them for dinner with white rice. Cubans think white rice goes with everything and it is never rice or potatoes, for example one of my son's favorite meal is Unbreaded Cuban Steak, the onions from the marinade cooked to almost caramelized, white rice and French Fries. The original dish was made with leftover mashed potatoes and leftover picadillo from another meal.

Re: Cuban Food - HomeCulinarian - 02-16-2009

Thanx, Cubangirl! This sounds really good.

Re: Cuban Food - labradors - 02-16-2009


Cubans think white rice goes with everything...

So do Hondurans. I've even seen them serve white rice as a side to spaghetti and meat sauce. Of course, they also added a boiled, unripe banana or fried slices of green plantain (tajadas) to that. LOL!

Re: Cuban Food - marzyn - 02-17-2009



Cubans think white rice goes with everything...

So do Hondurans. I've even seen them serve white rice as a side to spaghetti and meat sauce. Of course, they also added a boiled, unripe banana or fried slices of green plantain (tajadas) to that. LOL!


Ditto here, in Venezuela they even serve lasagna (pasticho here) with white rice, which is made with a local small sweet pepper (aji dulce, it is something like a scotch bonnet bell pepper), and onion, salt and a little cooking oil (never olive). I was born here and yet I've never been able to understand Venezuelan obsession with white rice!
As for tajadas, here it's made with very ripe plantain, if it made with green plantain then it's either tostones (chips) or patacones, which are double-fried.

Re: Cuban Food - labradors - 02-25-2009

Made the Papas Rellenas on Sunday, and they were great. Monday (and Tuesday) morning, I also had the Picadillo a Caballo, as suggested, and enjoyed that, as well.

A couple of notes:
  • Since this was the first time I've made them, I was a little cautious on the tomato sauce, to be sure the picadillo wouldn't wind up with too much liquid for the papas. The next time, I would add more tomato sauce for more flavour.
  • At first, I assembled the papas as cubangirl had described: by making two filled halves and joining them together. Although I had HEARD of its being done that way, all the people I had ever seen making papas rellenas had formed the potatoes into a full ball first, THEN poked a hole into the ball with their thumb, THEN filled that hole with the picadillo and sealed up the hole before applying the egg, breading, and frying. When I did it that way, instead of with two filled halves, I found that they held together better during the breading and frying.
  • I didn't add anything, at all, to the potatoes - just mashed them. The next time, I would add some salt and white pepper to give them a little more flavour, as well.
  • Although I liked the idea of the Cuban crackers for breading (I used to buy Rika-brand, garlic-flavoured, Cuban crackers all the time, in Florida), I didn't have any on hand, nor can I recall ever seeing them here. I'll have to look around again.

My next experiment with these will be to freeze one to see how well it will reheat in the oven, later. It would be great to have a stock of these in the freezer!