by Tammy Taylor
Several weeks ago I found myself with an abundance of potatoes and realized there was no way RancherMan & I could eat them all before they went bad. I went into high-gear preservation mode & dehydrated many of them, but some of them went into the freezer. When I freeze potatoes I cook and mash them but add nothing else – no salt, pepper, milk or butter – just cooked mashed potatoes. I section them in sandwich bags into serving sizes & freeze them into individual bricks. To use them I’ll pull a brick of frozen mashed potatoes out of the freezer the night before and allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. (The thawed mashed potatoes usually release quite a bit of water and that potato water is not wasted but poured into my weekly endless soup pot.) The potatoes are often enjoyed for supper that night by simply heating them and adding salt & pepper, a small pat of butter and maybe a light splash of milk. I can tell no difference in these potatoes and the potatoes I’ve cooked fresh & mashed. But I’ve found RancherMan’s absolute FAVORITE way to eat leftover mashed potatoes – POTATO CAKES!
Now we don’t often eat fried foods but I view it as I view anything else in our healthy diet – moderation in all things. So occasionally I’ll make potato cakes for RancherMan – they’re super easy to whip up. I pull out those leftover mashed potatoes and if they were previously frozen I’ll drain the water from them, and into the bowl the potatoes go. I’ll add an egg and some minced veggies like onion or garlic or maybe bell pepper – it all depends on what I have on hand needing to be used. Then I’ll add salt & pepper and enough fine bread crumbs to make the mixture thick enough for me to roll into small balls. I like to have another saucer of breadcrumbs set aside to coat the potato cakes.
Here’s how I cook them: I take out my cast-iron skillet and add enough oil to cover the bottom and turn the stove on medium heat. When the oil is hot I take a potato ball and roll it in my reserved bread crumbs pressing it into a thick patty & being sure to coat all sides. Then I take that patty and drop it into the hot oil as I continue to make up the remaining potato cakes in the same manner. After a short time I gently flip the potato cakes to brown the other side and then serve ’em up as a side dish with our supper. They’re crispy on the outside and soft and savory on the inside and we LOVE them.
Since potato cakes are made from leftover mashed potatoes it’s a very inexpensive way to remake a leftover item into something new & delicious! As I mentioned earlier it’s so easy to change ’em up each time to either use what you already have or to flavor them to go with your meal. Sometimes I add shredded cheese or chopped chives, sometimes I season with Italian or Mexican spices to go with our main-dish theme, it’s very flexible and very forgiving. Keep in mind that the potatoes need to be cold to make them easier to handle and the potato cakes are slightly fragile both going into the skillet as well as serving them up freshly fried so take care when handling them. But it’s such an easy way to make my RancherMan happy at suppertime.
Although you know I simply CAN’T follow a recipe and am guilty of amending it each & every time I make it, here’s the base recipe I use:
- Cold Leftover Mashed Potatoes (about 1.5 – 2 cups)
- 1 Egg
- 1/4 Cup Breadcrumbs (or more to make a thick potato mixture)
- Minced Onion, Bell Pepper, and/or Garlic To Taste
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/4 Cup Breadcrumbs (optional for coating)
Into cold leftover mashed potatoes mix one egg and some minced onion, bell pepper and/or garlic into potatoes. Season with salt & pepper and then mix in enough breadcrumbs to make the mixture thick enough to roll into approximately 1″ balls. Set aside about another 1/4 cup breadcrumbs if desired for coating.
Pour enough oil to cover the bottom of your skillet and heat at medium until hot. Take each ball of potato and roll in reserved breadcrumbs to coat, mashing ball into a thick patty and place patty into hot oil. Cook each side until brown and serve.