Posts Tagged ‘mashed potatoes’


            Although I hadn’t eaten a potato croquette in years nor had I made one either, I decided to use some leftover mashed potatoes to create some crispy tater tots to accompany some steaks I was cooking up.  Many years ago there was a small Italian restaurant, Capri, in Manhattan’s theater district that served extraordinary croquettes – usually with a beautiful veal chop.  Theirs were so light and delicate that they seemed impossible to replicate at home so I didn’t even try.  They only came back to my sensory memory when I bit into my version.  Not fluffy, not terribly light, and certainly not delicate.  But, they tasted pretty good.  Now that they are back on the menu I’ll try to refine my recipe – I promised Steve that I’ll get to light and delicate.

Here’s what I did:

I had about 2½ cups of cold mashed potatoes to which I added 2 large eggs, ¾ cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons of flour.  I beat the mix until very well combined and then seasoned with salt and pepper.  I whisked 2 eggs with a bit of milk in one shallow bowl, put about 3 cups of lightly salted bread crumbs in another, and then Wondra flour in a third.  I formed the potato mixture into logs – they were much too big I realized – and then dipped the logs into the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally into the breadcrumbs.  I fried them in olive oil and dusted them with sea salt at the finish.  If I’d used freshly made dry potatoes that I’d pushed through a food mill, formed the mix into smaller logs, and fried them a little bit less, I think they would have been the light and delicate croquettes I remembered.  I’ll ace it next time.

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What I call hash browns, lots of people call home fries.  And this is simply because that is what my mom called cubed raw potatoes fried with chopped onions in (for her) bacon fat.  When she fried – and now when I fry – shredded potatoes mixed with shredded onions, she usually formed them into one big pancake in a cast iron skillet and called it a potato cake, not hash browns.  Although they are usually associated with a diner breakfast, I often make my hash browns for dinner, particularly with steaks or chops.  And, occasionally they do make it to the breakfast table but, when that happens they are usually leftover and added to a frittata.  If you have bacon fat on hand, it adds wonderful flavor to the potatoes as does duck fat.  But, taking care of health issues, I mostly use olive oil as my fat of choice.  The following very simple recipe should serve 6 people.

2 to 3 tablespoons fat of choice
    6 large russet or other all-purpose potatoes, well-washed, peeled, and cut into small cubes
    1 large onion, peeled and diced
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Sprinkle of paprika, optional

Heat the fat in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When very hot, but not smoking, add the potatoes and onions.  Season with salt, pepper, and paprika and fry, tossing and turning frequently, for about 25 minutes or until crisp and golden brown with a few charred edges.  You can, if you want to speed things along, cover the potatoes for about 10 minutes, but they do tend to sweat rather than crisp.  However, once uncovered, you can raise the heat and toss and turn until they crisp up.

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I love the variety of potatoes I find at the farmers market – their sizes and peculiarities  amaze me.  I remember when our choices were simple – russet, Idaho, and sweet – that was it.  Now, we have La Ratte, Yellow Finn, Purple Peruvian, Pink Eye, Banana, Purple Swede, Red Thumb, Bintje, Butterball, Adirondack Blue, and Purple Viking among tens of others.  Don’t you just love the names?  Talking to a avid (and knowledgeable) gardener friend recently I learned a new potato fact – we could live quite well on a diet of potatoes IF they were supplemented with dairy – either cream, milk, yogurt, or butter as the latter carry the 2 vitamins – A and D – that are lacking in potatoes.  Can you imagine living on bowl after bowl of buttery mashed potatoes?  I almost can!  Anyway, this is a long tale to feature a photo of some tiny little fingerling potatoes I bought on Sunday at our local behind-the-Museum of Natural History (another phenomenon) farmers market.
First I steamed them and then I sautéed them with some green beans (also from the market), shallots, and walnuts in a little combo of walnut and grapeseed oil.  A good seasoning of salt and pepper and they made a perfect little mound on which to plant some slices of rare skirt steak.

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