Potato Croquettes (Crocchette di Patate)

Potato Croquettes (Crocchette di Patate)

 

I was driving around Sydney a few weeks ago, distractedly listening to the local Italian radio station, when a very animated conversation caught my attention. The radio host and an elderly Southern Italian lady on the phone were engaged in a feisty discussion about one of everybody’s favorite Italian side dish, crocchette di palate, potato croquettes. The dear lady truly sounded in despair over the failure of the recipe given to her by her neighbor’s sister-in-law: the croquettes broke down in the frying pan and so did her spirit. After a detailed sequence of questions, the host, a self-proclaimed food expert, gave his verdict: the neighbor’s sister-in-law never mentioned resting the uncooked, shaped croquettes in the fridge before frying them. That apparently, is the secret to a perfectly crunchy morsel that holds its shape in the hot oil. The lady’s spirit was quickly resorted and new confidence was instilled into her heart. And into mine, for that matter. I had never attempted to make croquettes, but now that, yet another secret of Italian home-cooking had been bestowed upon me, I could not give it a miss.

Ingredients, makes 12-16 croquettes

2 large red potatoes

4-5 tablespoons of plain flour

1 tablespoon or potato starch (or corn flour)

2 eggs (one for potato mix, one for the batter)

salt, to taste

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

a little freshly ground black pepper

2 spring onions , finely chopped

1 handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 small handful of chives, finely chopped

2 cups of breadcrumbs (home-made or  store-bought panko crumbs)

How to

Wash the potatoes, place them in a  pot of cold water, skin on and simmer for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

Drain the water, allow for the potatoes to cool for 5 minutes then peel them.

Mash the potatoes with a masher or using a potato ricer.

Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, add the egg and the herbs.

Add the flour and potato starch (or corn flour) and mix it through to obtain a firm yet pliable dough. Depending on the size of your potatoes you may need less flour or add a little more if the dough is too sticky.

Place the crumbs onto a plate.

Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk it with a fork.

Using wet hands, shape the dough into little sausages the size of your thumb (or bigger if you so prefer), dip them into the egg and the coat them with the crumbs. Set aside onto a plate and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Heat up the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Test the oil by dropping in a cube of bread. If it sizzles at the sides and turns golden in 15 seconds, the oil is ready to go.

Drop in the croquettes, 4 0r 5 at a time and deep fry on both sides for 2-3 minutes or until golden.

Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt flakes and eat while still hot.

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