We so often take for granted our delicious potatoes, every now and then I like to pay them the compliment of an honoured place at my table and a recipe just for them. Today it’s all about the taties.
Garlic Potato Cakes
These crispy patties will remind you of fish cakes, but rather than a stand-alone lunch meal they make a surprising and tasty side dish for your next pork chop or rotisserie chicken. Come to think of it, these go with any meat or fish, or vegetarian bean dish, you can name. It seems like a lot of garlic, but cooking it while like this with the potatoes mellows the flavour. If you happen to have some bacon fat in the fridge, by all means add it to the frying oil. I was fortunate enough to receive the gift of some home-grown garlic from my aunt in Corner Brook this past weekend, so these are definitely on my menu this week.
2 lbs. (about 4 medium to large) yellow potatoes
6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
2 tbsp. soft butter
2 tbsp. flour
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup coarse (Try panko here!) bread crumbs
vegetable oil for frying
Cover potatoes and garlic with cold water and a good pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and mash together with butter. Cool about 15 minutes then stir in 1 of the eggs, flour, parsley, salt and pepper. I would absolutely taste it now to make sure the mixture is well seasoned. If you don’t want to eat raw egg than fry a small tester. Form into 6 or 8 cakes, the same size and shape as fish cakes. Whisk remaining 2 eggs. Dip each of the cakes in the beaten eggs then into the crumbs, pressing lightly to help the crumbs adhere. Allow to sit a few minutes then fry in about 1/4 inch vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Brown well on both sides, drain on paper towels and serve.
Mushroom Potato Bake
This one is rich and satisfying, delicious served warm for lunch or as a side with something special for supper. White button mushrooms would work fine, but big, hearty portobellos add hard-to-beat taste and texture to this dish. Peel the potatoes if you want, but I like them as they are in this recipe. If you use store-bought broth, it can become quite salty and you might need no more salt in the dish at all, but reduced-sodium or your own broth means you likely have to add a little salt before baking. Salt content will also vary depending on whether you use salted or unsalted butter, so beware.
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup butter, preferably unsalted
3 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
6 medium yellow potatoes, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
leaves from 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Bring broth to a boil and reduce by half to yield 2 cups; set aside to cool a little. Melt butter in a Dutch oven and add onions and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms release their moisture and it evaporates, and everything starts to brown. Stir in potatoes, parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and pepper and cook together 1 minute. Pour reduced broth over top and bake at 400 F for about 45 minutes, until potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown.
Quiche Baked Potatoes
If you use a baked potato shell instead of pie crust, is it still quiche? I’m not sure, but it’s delicious. You won’t use the potato you scoop out of the shells so mash it with a little butter and eat it for supper tonight and save the skins for this recipe tomorrow — win-win for you. Substitute cooked crumbled sausage or diced ham for the bacon if you like. If all the filling won’t fit into the potatoes, bake it in a dish alongside as cook’s treat.
1/2 lb. bacon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 large baking potatoes, well scrubbed and dried
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper (divided)
1/2 cup each grated Swiss and cheddar cheese
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup each milk and whipping cream
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Fry bacon until crisp; remove from pan, crumble and set aside. Add onion to pan and fry until soft; remove, drain and discard fat and set onions aside. Toss potatoes in olive oil and sprinkle on about half the salt and pepper. Bake at 400 F for 45 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from oven and cool enough to handle. Slice off the tops 1/4 to 1/2 inch into the potatoes and scoop out the flesh, leaving enough around the peel so that they will hold their shapes when refilled and baked. Place them back on the baking sheet, but press them down slightly so they sit flat. Divide crumbled bacon, cooked onion and cheese among potatoes. Whisk together egg, egg yolk, milk, cream, nutmeg and cayenne pepper, along with remaining salt and pepper, and divide among potatoes. Return to the oven and bake at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the centres are barely set. Serve immediately or cool slightly to intensify the flavour.
Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c-o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, N.L., A1E 4N1.