Chow down on Cuban stuffed potato balls

Porto’s Bakery and Cafe is a few hours away in Southern California, but the tedious work of rolling and stuffing potatoes and packing the potatoes with savory beef will be a worthwhile adventure.

Porto’s Bakery and Cafe is a few hours away in Southern California, but the tedious work of rolling and stuffing potatoes and packing the potatoes with savory beef will be a worthwhile adventure.

Camille Anglo and Kaitlin Bruce

Cuban stuffed potato balls, or papas rellenas, is an addicting snack that will make you wish there was a Porto’s Bakery and Cafe nearby.

Porto’s Bakery and Cafe, a Southern California favorite, is notorious for their baked goods such as dulce de leche kiss cookies, guava cheese rolls and, most importantly, their stuffed potato balls.

Since the nearest Porto’s Bakery and Cafe is a good five hours away, the tedious work of rolling and stuffing potatoes is worthwhile just to consume these savory suckers.

This recipe was adapted from

Cuban Stuffed Potato Balls

For the potatoes:

4 large russet potatoes

1 1/2 tablespoons of warm milk

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

For the filling:

1 pound of ground beef, 80 percent lean

1 large green bell pepper, minced and drained

1 large red bell pepper, minced and drained

1 medium-sized onion, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons oregano

2 teaspoons pepper

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons salt

1 lime, juiced

For the breading:

1 cup of unseasoned breadcrumbs

1/2 cup of all-purpose flour 2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

Clean and peel the potatoes then cut into equal-sized cubes. After cutting the potatoes, rinse them, this will give the potatoes a smoother texture after mashing.

Place the potatoes into a pot with water and boil with the lid on. Once the water begins to boil, remove the lid and continue cooking the potatoes until they are fork-tender.

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain all the water from the pot. Use a fork to thoroughly mash the potatoes until they begin to resemble mashed potatoes. Add the warm milk and salt and mash again.

To make the filling, cut the bell peppers into large chunks, toss them into a blender and blend for 30 seconds. After blending, drain the peppers to remove the water. To ensure a more cohesive filling, drain the peppers to remove the water so the filling isn’t watery. Repeat the process with the onion and garlic; there’s no need to drain these ingredients.

Heat a medium-sized pan on medium-high heat and once the pan is heated, begin to brown the ground beef. Since there is some fat in the ground beef, there is no need to oil the pan. Once the meat has cooked, remove some of the oil. Although the grease will make the filling better, it’s not exactly heart-healthy to keep all of it in, so save yourself some calories and just get rid of it.

After removing the oil, mix in the minced and drain peppers. Saute for two minutes and add in the minced onion and garlic.

Next comes the seasoning. With this recipe, it is possible to overseason the meat, so add in the seasonings little by little and keep tasting the meat to make sure it’s worthy of eating.

Add in the Worcestershire sauce, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, cayenne and lime. The taste should be a combination of spicy, zesty and smoky.

If your kitchen begins to smell like mouthwatering, smoky beef, then you’re doing it right. The meat should simmer for an additional five minutes. Afterward, remove from the heat and allow it to cool. The meat and potatoes will take about an hour to be cool enough to handle.

To create the potato balls, take 1 1/2 tablespoon of the potato into your palm and roll into a ball. Flatten the potato ball until it’s almost the size of your palm. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the beef into the center of the potato and close the ends. Roll the potato ball in your hand to make it a more spherical shape. Repeat this process until you run out of either potatoes or beef.

Crack two eggs into a bowl, add a pinch of salt and scramble. In another bowl, combine the flour, breadcrumbs and a little bit of salt.

Take a potato ball, roll it into the egg mixture and once it’s covered, roll it around in the breadcrumbs. In order to give the potato balls a crispy outer crust, you have to bread the potato ball twice.

Once all the balls have been dredged, let the potato balls rest in the freezer for at least an hour and a half.

Frying these potato balls is easy. Heat a small pot with 3 inches of oil and allow it to heat thoroughly. Deep frying food when the oil is not ready results in undercooked food chock full of oil, which doesn’t make for yummy potato balls.

Drop four potato balls into the pot so they can all cook evenly. Fry the potato balls for three to five minutes, or until the potato balls are golden brown. Remove the potato balls from the oil and place them on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

After a couple of minutes (or right away if you don’t mind burning your mouth with potato balls that are as hot as the sun), the potato balls are ready for chowing down.

Camille Anglo can be reached at [email protected]

Kaitlin Bruce can be reached at [email protected]