For the potatoes: Start by putting the potatoes in a large pot. Cover with 8 cups cold water and add the salt; the water should taste a little salty. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook until they feel tender when poked with a fork or knife. Drain and then mash, adding the milk and butter. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for at least an hour.
For the filling: Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a deep skillet over high heat. Add the onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Turn the heat down to medium-high and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the beef and tomato paste, cover and turn the heat down to medium. Cook for about 25 minutes. Remove the lid and stir; the consistency should look like thick chili. Transfer to a pan and spread the mixture out so it cools quickly.
To assemble: Start by portioning the cooled potato mixture, about 8 ounces or enough to look like an orange when rolled into a ball. Next, take a ball and flatten with your palms while at the same time maintaining a cup shape in one hand. Then, with an ice cream scooper, fill the potato with the meat filling. Close and seal it with both hands. Repeat with all the potato balls. Set up 3 shallow pans, one with the egg wash and the others with the panko. Take a potato ball and put in the egg, then in the fine panko, back into the egg and then in the coarse panko. Once you have breaded them, put them in the refrigerator to firm up, about 30 minutes. Fill a deep pot about halfway with oil and heat to about 350 degrees F. Carefully drop the potato balls in the oil and fry in batches until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve with Salsa Ranchera.
Start by heating a skillet with 5 tablespoons of the olive oil and adding the chiles and whole garlic cloves to toast for a few minutes. Then add the onions, bell peppers, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Then add the fresh tomatoes, tomato puree and stock, and reduce by a third at a low simmer; this takes about 15 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes. Then place in a blender and puree. Heat the remaining 5 tablespoons olive oil in another pan. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer and add to the pan. Fry the sauce in the hot pan and reduce until thick, 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional. It has not been tested for home use.
Recipe courtesy of Omar Giner, La Isla Restaurant, Hoboken, NJ