Papas Rellena with Aji Picante

Summer 2012
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food and drink

BY: Christopher St. Onge

You’ll need to begin this recipe a day ahead as the stew needs to be chilled before being surrounded by mashed potato. Any leftover stew, spectacular over buttered noodles or rice, is the cook’s privilege for all the hard work.

AJI PICANTE
2 tbsp (30 mL) white vinegar
1 cup (250 mL) loosely packed cilantro leaves
1 habanero, or scotch bonnet pepper, seeds and ribs removed
1 ripe plum tomato, roughly chopped
3 green onions, roughly chopped
2 tbsp (30 mL) water
2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil


STEWED OXTAIL FILLING
½ cup (125 mL) flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 lbs (1 kg) oxtail, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) lengths
3 tbsp (45 mL) vegetable oil
1/3 cup (80 mL) finely chopped onion
1/3 cup (80 mL) finely chopped carrot
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup (80 mL) finely chopped red pepper
1/3 cup (80 mL) finely chopped green pepper
1½ tsp (7 mL) ground allspice
¼ tsp (1 mL) ground nutmeg
Sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup (250 mL) dry red wine
1 cup (250 mL) beef stock ¼ cup (60 mL) dried currants, soaked in warm tap water for 30 minutes and drained
3 medium-size baking potatoes
1 egg yolk, plus 2 eggs beaten, divided 1 cup (250 mL) flour
2 cups (500 mL) bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for deep frying

1 Make the aji picante by combing vinegar, cilantro, habanero, tomato and green onions with 2 tbsp (30 mL) water in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped, add oil and continue to process until finely chopped. Cover and refrigerate, for up to 1 day, until ready to use.

2 Place ½ cup (125 mL) flour in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Dredge oxtail in flour, shaking off excess. Heat 3 tbsp (45 mL) vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over medium high heat. Brown meat on all sides, about 6 minutes total, and remove to a plate.

3 Reduce heat to medium, add onion and carrot to pot and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add garlic, red and green pepper, and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in allspice, nutmeg, thyme sprig and bay leaf. Return oxtail to pot. Pour wine and beef stock over, season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cover pot. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 to 2½ hours or until meat pulls away easily from the bones.

4 Once again, remove oxtail to a plate. Increase heat to medium-high, add currants and boil for 10 to 12 minutes, or until thickened and reduced by half. Remove meat from the bones, shred or chop finely and return to pot. Stir to combine, cover and refrigerate overnight.

5 Peel potatoes and cut into chunks. Cook in salted boiling water until tender. Drain well, return to pot and mash until no lumps remain. Season with salt, and stir to combine. Allow to cool uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Stir in egg yolk. Working with a generous tbsp (15 mL) of potato at a time, form into a ball. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the centre. Fill with 1 tsp (5 mL) of stewed oxtail, and cover with an additional tbsp (15 mL) of potato. Form into a ball, or a torpedo shape and set aside. Repeat with remaining potato.

6 When ready to cook, place flour, remaining eggs and bread crumbs in 3 separate bowls. Working with 1 croquette at a time, evenly coat each first in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs.

7 Heat a 3-inch (8-cm) depth of vegetable to oil in a medium saucepan to 375°F (190°C). Working in batches, fry papas rellena for 3 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, allow to drain on paper-towel-lined cookie sheet. Serve warm with aji picante.

Serves 4 to 6