Pastel de Papas (potato pie) is a typical Argentina dish with mashed potatoes and a meat filling. The filling is the same as traditional Argentine empanadas, so if you learn how to make one dish, you can easily make the other. I think this meal would be classified as “comfort food” as it is something that seems perfect to eat on a cold winter day. This is nearly a one-dish meal with a vegetable on the side, and it goes a long way- perfect for big families. Give it a try!
- 2.2 pounds of ground beef
- 3.3 pounds of diced onions (it seems like a lot, but after they cook down you don’t notice them and they are essential for an authentic flavor)
- 1/4 T pepper
- 1 T. salt (coarsely ground is better)
- 1/2 T smoked paprika (it’s best if it isn’t sweet paprika)
- 1/2 T ground chili pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 T oregano
- Two dashes of sugar
- 4.5 pounds of potatoes
- 4 hard boiled eggs
- Green olives, diced (optional, but traditional and yummy)
- 2 raw eggs, beaten
- Hard boil 4 eggs. Cool and peel.
- Use the potatoes to make normal mashed potatoes to your taste (peel, boil until tender, strain, and mash with milk, butter, and some salt to taste).
- Dice the onions (can use a food processor). Heat 3 T of olive oil in a deep frying pan. Sauté onions, covered, on medium-high temperature until transparent and soft- stirring occasionally.
- When the onions are transparent and soft, add the ground beef and mix together. Cover. Occasionally stir the mixture until the meat is cooked through.
- Add the seasonings: 1/4 T black pepper, 1/2 T smoked paprika, 1/2 T ground chili powder, 2 T oregano, 1/2 tsp cumin, 2 dashes sugar, and about 1 T salt. Remember that these measurements are (good) estimates: add some, taste the mixture, and add more if you think it will taste better.
- After the seasonings are well mixed into the meat, you can put the pastel together. Grease two pizza pans or one cookie sheet. The traditional way is to put a thin layer of mashed potatoes on the pan, but it is also common to use a savory pie dough on the bottom (you can buy the dough at a latino store- it’s called “masa de hojaldre”).
- On top of the thin layer of mashed potatoes or the pastry dough, put the meat filling. Slice the four hard boiled eggs and distribute evenly on top of the meat filling. Evenly distribute the diced green olives (however many you want) on top of the meat filling. Cover the filling with mashed potatoes. You can dip the spoon in a cup of cold water at intervals to help prevent the potatoes from sticking to the spoon as you spread them out.
- Use a fork to mark a criss-cross pattern on top of the potatoes. This will hold the beaten egg and help make the top crispy.
- Evenly spread the two raw, beaten eggs on top of the potatoes.
- Bake, uncovered, in a hot oven at 400 °F until the top is golden brown, about 15 – 20 minutes.