Papa Rellena Pie

Papa Rellena Pie

The translation of a “Papa Rellena” is a stuffed potato. Papa Rellenas are bite-sized or tapa style potato bites wrapped in breadcrumbs.  When you bite into them, you’ll find a delicious Picadillo filling in the center. Papa Rellenas are fried, however, I’ve started to see some healthier oven-baked versions. This makes sense since my only complaint about a Papa Rellena is that it tends to be on the greasy side.

A Pie is Born

The inspiration for this dish came from Shepard’s Pie. We just ended St. Patrick’s day weekend and I noticed many food blogs were highlighting recipes for Shepard’s Pie. The week ended up being a little rough and called for some comfort food. Shepard’s Pie sounded perfectly comforting.

Mashed Potatoes and Breadcrumbs

As I began reading the handful of recipes, it reminded me of a big Papa Rellena prepared as a pie. I began making notes to see where I could add my Cuban style variations.  You could easily substitute the traditional filling with Picadillo and add a layer of breadcrumbs on top of the potato for a Papa Rellena homage.

Some Tips and Tricks

Ground Turkey Picadillo

When I started testing out the recipe, I found a few things that would improve the dish. Normally, I make Picadillo with lean ground turkey to make it as healthy as possible. If you choose to also use ground turkey vs ground beef, do not get the extra lean version. Since essentially this is cooked twice, have some fat to prevent dry out. This will also help keep everything together.

The layer of potato should be kept relatively thin which would be about 3-4 potatoes at about 1/4″ to 1/2″ high. I used 5-6 potatoes in my test run and it created a very thick layer of potato. I felt it made the potato layer rather overwhelming. In this recipe, I only used a pound of ground turkey, however,  if you plan to use at least a pound and a half, you can probably add an extra potato.

I used regular breadcrumbs but I think Panko would also be a good alternative. Another idea is adding 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese to make it interesting and melt nicely into the potatoes.

Papa Rellena Pie
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
Course: Main Course
  • 3 medium yukon gold potatoes cubed
  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 4 tbsp olive oil separated
  • 1 lb ground turkey or beef
  • 1 medium green pepper diced
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 dry white cooking wine
  • 8 oz prepared tomato sauce
  • 1 dash sriracha
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  1. Peel and cube potatoes.

  2. Add potatoes to a salted boiling pot of water until potatoes are fork tender, about 10-15 minutes. 

  3. Drain potatoes and put them back into pot or large bowl for mashing.

  4. Add butter and milk and begin mashing. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Set potatoes aside and let them come to room temperature.

Picadillo (Base Layer)
  1. Add 2 tbsp of the olive to a pan over medium heat. Reserve the other two for mixing with the breadcrumbs. Once olive oil is heated and fragrant, add the ground meat.

  2. When ground meat is browned, add diced green peppers and onions. Cook until onions are translucent. 

  3. Add the minced garlic and stir for about 1-2 minutes carefully making sure not the burn the garlic.

  4. Begin adding wet ingredients, first with the cooking wine to deglaze the pan.  Then add the can of tomato sauce, sriracha, and Worcestershire sauce. I like to add the tomato sauce gradually as I mix it in to make sure the meat mixture is coated nicely.

  5. Add the cumin, bay leaf, and then salt and pepper to taste.

  6. Cover and let simmer on low for at least 25-30 minutes gradually stirring every 5 minutes. If the mixture begins to look dry, add a bit more dry wine.

Assemble and Breadcrumb Topping
  1. Preheat the oven to 450

  2. In a medium bowl add the breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper to taste, and gradually add in the remaining olive. Mix well to coat the breadcrumbs. 

  3. In a casserole or baking dish, add the layer of picadillo to the bottom. then layer with the potatoes. Keep the potato layer about 1/4" to 1/2". 

  4. On top of the picadillo layer, add the potatoes and smooth out over the picadillo. Keep the potatoes to 1/4" to 1/2" high.

  5. Layer the breadcrumbs on top of the potato layer and put in the oven for 10 minutes until the breadcrumbs look toasted.

  6. Remove from oven and enjoy!