Rocoto Relleno and Pastel de Papas


Today is August 15, the anniversary of Arequipa. Arequipa has some delicious food, and one of our favorite plates (and one they are known for) is Rocoto Relleno and Pastel de Papas. Today was my first time to prepare this plate by myself.

rocotos are either green or red
rocotos are either green or red

The rocoto is a hot pepper that looks a whole lot like a bell pepper. Bell peppers are actually used for small kids since they have no spice (but not the McKinzie children). 🙂 The rocoto is gutted, stuffed with a flavorful meat mixture, topped with cheese, and baked to glorious perfection in the oven.

Pastel de papas can be compared to a potato casserole or scalloped potatoes. The distinct flavor, though, is the cheese that you buy from the market to use in it. Many restaurants serve pastel de papas with the traditional Rocoto Relleno.



  • 12 medium to large rocotos
  • 3/4 k thinly cut steak meat
  • 3 generous Tbs of Aji Colorado molido, or a mixture of spices (garlic, oregano, and cumin)
  • 2 boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/4 c of peanuts, chopped finely
  • 1/4 c of dark raisins
  • 4 large onions, diced finely
  • oil
  • fresh parsley, diced finely
  • cheese (queso serano)
  • evaporated milk (1.5 large cans)
  • 3 eggs

1. Ask a Peruvian expert cook. Manuela is my go-to-profesora. She taught me the best way to gut the rocotos and soak them to get some of the spice out. The day before cooking, you clean out the seeds and veins, remove the tops (so that you can place them back on top to bake), and place them in a bowl of water with the juice and skins of 5 limes and 2 tbs of red vinegar. You allow them to soak all night. ***Greg loves spicy food. I did not soak his rocotos at all. I gutted his two rocotos right before stuffing for baking.***

Manuela and I preparing the rocotos
Manuela and I preparing the rocotos


2. The next morning, rinse the rocotos, refill the bowl with water, add 1/4 c of sugar to the water, and place the rocotos back in the bowl to soak throughout the morning.


3. Preparing the meat mixture:

  • Dice and cut all of the ingredients…


diced peanuts
diced peanuts
finely diced onion
finely diced onion
finely cut parsley
finely cut parsley


  • heat the Aji Colorado until bubbly, add 2 Tbs of oil and stir until it is all the same color.


  • add the meat (with salt to taste) and brown.


  • add the onions and cook until translucent.


  • add everything else.


4. Remove peppers from sugar water, place in a colander, rinse, and then pour boiling water over the peppers to prepare them for baking. Place the pepper shells in a greased casserole dish.

5. Stuff the peppers with the meat mixture.


6. Add a piece of cheese and place the tops on the rocotos.


7. Mix the can of evaporated milk and 2 eggs. Pour them over the rocotos in the dish.


8. Bake at 475 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

after baking
after baking



  • 2 kilos red potatoes (papas rosadas)
  • 1/2 kilo queso serano
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 eggs (3 whole, 3 egg whites)
  • 1.5 cans evaporated milk
  • anis
  • 6 pads of butter

1. Clean dirt off of potatoes, peel, and cut into thin discs.

2. After buttering a deep 9×13 casserole dish, place one layer of potatoes into the dish.


3. Slice the cheese into fine layers. Add a layer of cheese over the potatoes.


Ana, my cheese helper
Ana, my cheese helper

4. Whisk the evaporated milk with the 3 whole eggs. Add salt and pepper. Pour some of the mixture over the first layer of potatoes and cheese.

Catherine, our beautiful visitor, whisking the milk and eggs.
Catherine, our beautiful visitor, whisking the milk and eggs.

5. Repeat the layers two more times, pouring the milk mixture over the 3rd layer.


6. Take the three egg whites, and mix them until stiff peaks form.


7. Spread the egg whites over the top of the potato dish evenly.


8. Now sprinkle anis over the egg whites.

my anis helper
my anis helper
almost finished
almost finished

9. Add small pads of butter onto the top of the egg whites, and bake for 1.5 hours at 350 degrees F.


The finished product…


Serve with a big stuffed rocoto!!!


Rocoto Relleno and Pastel de Papas