Popletas are fried, meat-filled potato dumplings. The ones without the filling, called pastelim, are more commonly known. In Morocco, popletas are a street food eaten year-round, but in the Jewish communities they are usually reserved for Hanukkah.
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1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon NYSHUK harissa
3 large Idaho potatoes peeled and cut into 6 wedges each
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
How to Make It
In a skillet set over moderately high heat, cook the meat in 1 tablespoon of oil, breaking it up, until browned. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the harissa. Reduce the heat and stir for 5 minutes. Let cool.
In a deep pot, cover the potatoes with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and cook over moderate heat until you can easily insert the tip of a knife into the potatoes. Drain well and return the potatoes to the pot. Cook over low heat, stirring, to dry out the potatoes as much as possible, 4 to 5 minutes; don’t let them brown. Remove from the heat and mash the using a potato masher. Mix in 1 1/2 tablespoons of harissa and season with salt, mixing gently. Do not let the mash cool.
In another small bowl, crack 2 eggs and mix with a fork. Add 1 tablespoon of the mashed potato and mix well; repeat this 3 times to gradually warm the egg. Stir this mixture into the remaining mashed potatoes until fully incorporated and uniformly bright red.
Oil your hands. Spread about 2 1/2 tablespoons of the mashed potato onto your palm in a 3-inch round about 1/2 inch thick. Place 1 teaspoon of the meat in the center and cover the meat completely with mashed potato. Shape it into a slightly flattened round. Repeat to form the remaining popletas.
In a large skillet, heat 1 1/2 inches of canola oil until hot but not smoking. Meanwhile, roll all of the popletas in flour, shaking off the excess. Break 2 eggs in a shallow bowl and mix well. Dip each popleta in the egg and carefully add it to the hot oil. When the popletas have browned, which should be very quickly, turn them around to brown the other side. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining popletas and serve warm.
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