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Fun fact: I dated a Cuban guy for about 9 years. And his family was my family. I lived with his parents for about 6 years, got my first car with his Dad’s help, and got to eat a whole lot of delicious Cuban food. Lately, I’ve been craving the kind of comforting, basic-yet-delicious meals we used to enjoy. Like this one. Papas Rellenas is considered an all-in-one meal: potato, wrapped around a ground beef mixture that often features raisins and olives. The appeal lies not just in its comfort and simplicity, but its cost: ground beef, potatoes…it doesn’t get much more affordable than that!
Making Papas Rellenas, AIP-Style
I’ve solved the pesky nightshade problem by making these with sweet potatoes. If you’re looking for that white potato color, by all means use white sweet potatoes. But for those times when I can’t find them, I’m more than happy to make these using the orange variety.
The “piccadillo”, Spanish for “hash”, is made with a savory blend of cooked beef, garlic and onion. I’ve given it a spicy-kick with dried cilantro, ginger, and oregano. Apple cider vinegar adds to the umami. And the raisins? They give it that final piece of the flavor trifecta, sweetness.
You’ll want to use a non-stick pan here. I’ve recently fallen in love with this ceramic pan. Finally, non-stick that’s non-toxic! I haven’t had any non-stick in my kitchen since I got rid of my Teflon, more than five years ago – so I’m pretty excited. But seriously – unless your idea of a good time is cursing at your pan as you work ceaselessly to unstick your papas rellenas from the bottom (which I know nothing about), use non-stick.
In addition to swapping out the potatoes, you won’t find any of the gluten, tomatoes, eggs, bread crumbs, or vegetable oil found in the original recipe. After several failed attempts trying to get a dough that would hold the piccadillo together, I felt I’d found success. But I wanted to know: would a Cuban, who loves the original recipe, like them?? So in order to really put them to the test, I gave some to a friend who had grown up eating them. I’ll admit to being a tad nervous, but I needn’t have been – she declared them a success!! Said they were delicious.
Looking for more AIP Meals? Try these…
AIP Papas Rellenas, a.k.a. Fried Stuffed Potatoes
This recipe for Papas Rellenas is a warm, comforting twist on the original. Nightshade, egg and gluten free, the picadillo gets sweet and savory with raisins, ginger and cilantro. Suitable for the AIP / Paleo / Whole30 diets.
- 3 lbs sweet potatoes
- 1 Tbsp cooking fat of choice
- 1/2 onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 tsp cilantro
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp onion
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 cup beef broth (any other kind will work as well)
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup cassava flour
- 3 Tbsp lard
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- avocado oil, for frying
Turn nonstick pan (see suggestion in post above) to medium heat. Fill large pot with salted water and set to boil.
While water and pan heat, peel and chop sweet potatoes. Chop onions, mince garlic.
Add sweet potatoes to boiling water and cook until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and place in large bowl and mash. Add cassava flour, lard and sea salt, mixing well. Place mixture in fridge and leave until cooled, about 45 mins.
Add oil to hot pan, swirl to coat. Cook onion until softened and fragrant. Add garlic and spices and cook several minutes more. Brown ground beef. Finish by adding broth and apple cider vinegar and allow to simmer until liquid has cooked off, about 10 minutes longer.
Make your stuffed potatoes. Using your hands, shape dough and place a Tbsp or so of meat mixture inside. Wrap dough around meat, pressing into place. Continue until all dough has been used (you will likely have some leftover meat). Let balls sit in fridge for at least an hour to prepare for frying.
Heat your nonstick pan over medium heat. When hot, add about an inch’s worth of avocado oil (roughly 1/4 cup).
Cook your potatoes in batches; don’t overcrowd the pan. Serve immediately. Makes roughly 12-15 large papas rellenas. Enjoy!!
A reminder to use nonstick when frying stuffed sweet potatoes! See post above for the pan I’m currently using and loving.