For the Papas Rellenas
4 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp corn starch
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup Picadillo
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs, flour, or cornstarch for GF option
Oil for frying.
For the Criollo Sauce
1 Tbsp rice bran oil
1 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 head garlic, minced
2 cups of tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Pork Picadillo
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
½ pound ground pork
4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 stalks green onion, finely chopped
½ cup dry sherry
½ cup canned crushed tomatoes, or tomato sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped
¼ cup raisins, optional
For the Papa Rellenas
In a large pot, cook potatoes in salted water to cover until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain well. Place them back in the pot over medium heat, and shake pot until remaining moisture evaporates.
Put potatoes through potato ricer. Add butter, egg, cornstarch and season with salt and pepper, and allow mixture to cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes.
Take a handful of puréed potatoes and shape it into about a 3-inch ball, around 1/3 of a cup.
Make a well and fill with 2 tablespoons picadillo. Reshape into a ball; repeat with remaining potato mixture. Roll the balls in the beaten egg and then in breadcrumbs. Place on a platter lined with wax paper, cover and refrigerate 1 hour. You can also roll them in egg and then in flour, and for a gluten-free option, roll them in cornstarch.
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, or deep fryer, over medium-high heat, heat 2 to 3 inches of oil to 375° F. Fry a few balls at a time until golden brown on all sides. Do not fry too many at once, or the oil temperature will drop, causing the stuffed potatoes to get soggy and greasy, rather than crisp. Drain the balls on a paper towel-lined platter. Serve hot.
For the Pork Picadillo
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook and stir for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the pork and cook, stirring until brown, breaking up any large chunks. Drain off excess fat. Add the dry sherry, tomato sauce, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
Add olives and raisins to the meat, and simmer the picadillo until most of the liquid has evaporated. You want the mixture to look moist, but not soupy. Adjust seasonings to taste.
For the Pork Criollo Sauce
Heat pan, add oil. Sauté onion and pepper until soft, add garlic and sauté until aromatic, then add tomatoes and bay leaf. Simmer for 20 minutes and remove bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper.