Our "Finca" (farm) in Colombia was about 5 hours from my home city of Medellín, although the roads are much better now and you can get there in about two to three hours. For vacation, my parents and I (as well as many relatives and their families) would go to the farms and have wonderful family reunions. We would always take the “ladder bus” that would leave Medellín at exactly 3:30 a.m.. At 7:00 a.m. the bus would always make the breakfast stop at the riverside town of Bolombolo, a dusty, hot town that survived by serving food, providing cheap accommaccommodations and selling trinkets to the buses going by. Since Bolombolo possessed the only bridge across the Cauca River for several hundred kilometers, the bus and trucking trade was very lucrative for the inhabitants. I always looked forward to our stop for breakfast in Bolombolo as this town was famous for its “empanadas” and its “papas rellenas”. I always had two of each with a large cup of hot chocolate. Pure heaven!
- 4 -6 potatoes
- 1 cup cooked white rice (cooled)
- 1 bunch green onion
- 1 large tomato
- 2 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb ground beef (I use ground Chuck because it is leaner)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 cup unbleached flour
- 4 large eggs (lightly beaten)
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- vegetable oil, to deep fry
- 1) Boil the whole potatoes in a pot filled with enough water to completely cover the potatoes. About 30 to 45 minutes.
- 2) Once the potatoes are cooked, take them out of the pot and set them aside on a plate to cool for about one hour.
- 3) While the potatoes are cooling, chop the green onions and tomato into small chunks and saute these in the butter (or olive oil) adding the garlic, cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper. We call this the “Hogao”.
- 4) Cook the hamburger meat in a frying pan with a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil until it is no longer pink. Do not overcook. While the meat is cooking, add the corn starch, the remaining salt and more cumin if you wish. Make sure that the meat turns out crumbly with no large chunks.
- 5) Thoroughly mix the “hogao” and cooked hamburger meat in a bowl and set aside to cool.
- 6) Cut the potatoes in half. Now we come to the tricky part. In other countries, they mash the potatoes and simply make round balls out of them. We do it the hard way in Colombia. Take each potato half and scoop the middle of it out with a spoon so that you end up with a small “potato bowl”. Be careful not too scoop too much out as you may accidentally go through the skin and the potato may fall apart on you.
- 7) Now, take the scooped out potato “meat” and cut through it with a sharp knife. Don’t use a fork because it may turn into “mashed potatoes” and the texture will be much better the coarser it is.
- 8) Place the potato “meat” in the bowl with the hamburger and hogao and mix thoroughly, making sure that there are no really large chunks of potato in the mixture.
- 9) Add the cooked rice to the mixture and mix thoroughly once more.
- 10) With your fingers, take some of the meat/rice mixture and fill the middle of the potato bowls with enough mixture to form a dome. In other words, shape the mixture so that it now looks like you have a whole potato again.
- 11) Heat your oil to frying temperature.
- 12) Beat together the large eggs, milk and the flour until smooth. (I add a little salt, pepper and cumin to my batter but it is up to your taste).
- 13) Roll each stuffed potato in the batter until well covered and drop into the hot oil using a slotted spoon. Cook until golden on one side, roll over and cook the other side.
- 14) Remove potatoes from the oil and drain on a plate or platter lined with a thick layer of paper towels on the bottom.
- 15) Enjoy! I like to use squeezed lemon or a mild salsa on my papas rellenas but they are delicious just by themselves.
- Hint: Sometimes, as you deep-fry the potatoes, you may notice that the batter may slide off leaving a blank spot on your potato. What I do, is that I use a teaspoon to pour some of the raw batter over the spot, carefully "slosh" some of the hot oil over it with the slotted spoon to set the batter and roll it over once more to cook the spot.
What a wonderful little packet of food! These potatoes were very easy to make. I used a melon baller to scoop out the cooked potato and it worked great. I was a bit worried that the filling would fall out when flipped over, but everything stayed in place. While the bottom was frying, I spooned the hot oil over the top to set it - and that did the trick! The only thing is, you have to eat them while they are still HOT, otherwise the batter gets a bit funny. These would be really fun to have as an appetizer, you could cook them while folks are milling about - its a great finger-food. We served these with some hogao alongside (which is wonderful!). Thanks, Fabio, for starting me on my Colombian Food Obsession...