Thursday, March 22, 2012
Potato Cheese Patties
I used to make these little potato and fresh cheese patties fairly often, but, since I’ve never written about them in these pages, that must mean I haven’t made them since before April 16, 2009 when I started this blog. I’m absolutely certain I would have told you about them if I had.
These potato patties are pleasantly easy to make. Really, they’re just mashed potatoes flavored with fresh cheese, scallions and a few dashes of seasoning (which you could totally customize to your own taste), formed into cakes and browned in a pan. Most of the time required to make them is spent waiting around (or doing something else if you’re one of those people) first while the potatoes cook and cool, then while the patties chill until firm.
I made the queso fresco for these this time, using the recipe for “Fresh Cheese, the Easy Way” in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. The method is the same as for this homemade cottage cheese (also from that cookbook). The curds are just squeezed together and drained longer to make a firmer cheese. Of course, you could use store-bought queso fresco and I think other shredded cheeses, such as cheddar or Monterey Jack, would work, too.
The original recipe is titled “Ecuadorean Potato-and-Cheese Patties” (or Llapingachos Ecuatorianos), but I definitely took them out of Ecuador by adding Aleppo pepper, which has its roots in Syria and Turkey. You wouldn’t have to use Aleppo pepper (I just happen to love it), and could replace it with crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne, or you could leave it out entirely for a less spicy potato patty. I like to serve these with salsa and sour cream on top, but if you’ve got good fresh tomatoes or a nice fresh pico de gallo in season, that would be fabulous, too.
In fact, you could change a lot of things in this recipe to make it more to your taste. I think the proportions of the main ingredients are just about right for a potato cake that holds together well, so I probably wouldn’t mess too much with that. Other seasonings, such as curry powder might be welcome in taking these in another direction, and, as I suggested above, other cheeses would probably be good as well. I really have to go back to making these deliciously simple little potato cakes more often, although with all the variations I could try, they may never go back to Ecuador again.
Potato Patties with Fresh Cheese and Scallions
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine, April 2001
I really recommend using a starchy baking potato for this recipe. When I’ve tried other types, such as red boiling potatoes, the patties did not hold together well.
1 ¼- 1 ½ pounds Russet or other baking potatoes
1 ¾ teaspoon coarse salt, divided
3 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
1 medium scallion, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons)
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or crushed red pepper flakes or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2-3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil for frying
1. Peel and coarsely chop the potatoes. Place them in a medium-size pot. Add 1 ½ teaspoons salt and enough water to cover the potatoes by a few inches. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20-25 minutes.
2. Drain the potatoes and place them in a medium-size bowl. Mash with a potato masher until well-smashed. Some small potato chunks are okay. Set aside to cool about 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
3. Add the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, queso fresco, scallion, cumin, chili powder, and Aleppo pepper. Stir until well combined.
4. Form the potato mixture into patties about 2 ½-3 inches in diameter. (You should get about 12 of them.) Place them in a single layer on a pan or tray and chill about 20 minutes or until firm.
5. Film the surface of a large (preferably nonstick) skillet with canola oil (about 1-2 tablespoons). Heat over medium heat until shimmering. Place as many potato patties in the pan as will fit without crowding. Cook 3-5 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and continue to cook 3-5 minutes more or until browned. Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining chilled patties, adding more oil to the pan if needed. Serve with salsa or pico de gallo and sour cream.
Makes about 12 patties, or about 4 servings. These are great for any meal, and leftovers are nice at breakfast.
Other recipes like this one: Grilled Potatoes with Lime-Herb Dipping Sauce, Spicy Potato and Tomato Gratin with Caramelized Onions
Two years ago: Celeriac, Potato and Wild Rice Soup