Copyright © 2014 Chris Schnaufer
Mmmm. Potatoes that are crispy on the outside and creamy smooth on the inside. These are so good that I am going to show the end product first.
This dish is something that is right out of my heritage. Even though the name is French, the act of breading something and pan frying it is very German. Just think of all the times you have heard of schnitzel: Wiener Schnitzel (breaded veal) and Jaeger Schnitzel (hunter schnitzel) to name two. True, both of those examples are breaded meats, but I don’t let anything like that stand in my way. Besides, what goes better with meat than potatoes? Schmecktlish.
Potatoes are known as Kartoffeln in German and the Germans love their potatoes (Kartoffel is a single potato). Don’t believe me? Look up how many different Kartoffelsalat (potato salad) recipes there are. There is also Kartoffelkloesse and kartoffelpfannkuchen (look them up) in all their variations. Perhaps the name for this dish should be Kartoffel Schnitzel; but it’s too late now, the title is typed in already and I have a recipe to write (not really, but I’m going with it).
So what do you need for this tasty treat that everyone will love? Here are the ingredients:
- Your favorite mashed potatoes. If you don’t have a recipe, I included one at the bottom
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for the cheese crisps
- Egg wash made from one egg and two tablespoons of milk whisked together
- Panko breadcrumbs*
- One-half cup of high-heat canola oil for pan frying**
- A scallion and a carrot for decorations
The first thing to start with is the decorations. For this you will need a bowl of ice water as shown in the photo below. Peel the carrot and cut both the scallion and carrot into 4 inch pieces. Slice the scallion thinly along its length and put it into the ice water so that it curls. Take the peeler and slice off strips of carrot. Cut the carrot strips thinly lengthwise and also place in the ice water to curl.
Next it’s crispy cheese time. Take small piles of Parmesan cheese and place them on a sheet of parchment paper about 4 inches apart. Spread out the cheese, but don’t spread it too thin. Bake the cheese in the oven at 450 degrees until its melted and crispy; about 7 minutes.
Once the crisps are done take them out to cool down.
Now we make the potato croquettes.
Whether you like to call them “Mashed Potatoes” or “Smashed Potatoes”; whether you eat them plain, with butter, gravy, or ketchup; whether you make a moat, a lake, or a volcano to hold that extra added goodness; whether you like them smooth, or slightly (or very) chunky; whether you prefer them white, yellow, Russet, or sweet; mashed potatoes are a wonderful food.
Whip up a batch of your favorite mashed potatoes, making the same amount as you normally would. There’s a recipe at the bottom of this post if you need one. Once the potatoes are mashed and ready, scoop out heaping tablespoons of potatoes and let them cool; as shown in the next photo.
While the potatoes cool you can prepare the egg wash and the breadcrumbs. Place the egg wash and breadcrumbs separately into shallow bowls. Using a plate for breadcrumbs also works, though I find it ends up a bit messy (maybe it’s just me).
Once the potatoes have cooled down, form them into rectangles about 3/8-1/2 inch thick. (If you want to make circles, squares, stars, or use a cookie cutter, who am I to stop you from having fun? Just be sure that there aren’t any skinny parts because they won’t like getting breaded, or you have much more patience than I do.) Double bread the tops and bottoms of the potato rectangles, one at a time, to turn them into croquettes. How to double bread: using one hand dip the large flat sides of potato in the egg wash and place on top of the breadcrumbs. Using your other hand cover the top of the potato with breadcrumbs and gently push the crumbs. Using your breadcrumb hand put the potato back into the egg wash keeping your hand dry. Repeat with another layer of egg wash and breadcrumbs and place the breaded croquette onto a flat surface. Do not stack them.
Put enough of the oil in a heavy pan to cover the bottom plus a little more (about 1/16th of an inch) and heat it up over med-high heat. Once the oil is hot enough to sizzle a breadcrumb turn the heat down to medium. Some of the oil will get absorbed as you cook so keep adding more oil, just before you flip the croquettes, so that there’s always a layer covering the bottom of the pan. Add croquettes and cook the one side until they’re nicely browned. Flip them over and brown the other side. Once both sides are browned remove them and cook up another batch until they have all been browned.
Keep them warm by putting them in the oven at 350 degrees until ready to serve.
To serve, place the croquettes on a dish and cut through a layer of breadcrumbs using a very sharp knife. Make a cut large enough to hold one of the Parmesan crisps stuck in sideways and stick in one of the crisps. Take some of the scallion and carrot curls, dry them using a towel, and place them on the croquette.
Eat and enjoy!
Here they are again.
- 2.5 lbs yellow potatoes (or other potato)
- 1/4 lb melted butter (1/2 stick)
- 1/3 cup milk warmed up
- Salt and Pepper to taste (1/2 tsp Salt and 1/4 tsp Pepper is a good start)
- (optional)Other spices
Peel potatoes and cover with cold water to prevent browning if you aren’t going to use them immediately. Cut the potatoes into approx. 1 inch chunks and put in a large pot. Add cold water to cover about half of the potato chunks, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn down to a simmer with the lid very slightly ajar to prevent boiling over. Cook until a fork is easily stuck into the potatoes. Add more water (boiling) if needed. Take off the heat and pour off any excess water when the potatoes are soft. Add butter, milk, salt, pepper, and other spices. Mash with a potato masher if you have one. Use a strong whisk or beaters and whip the potatoes until they have the consistency you like.
* Other breadcrumbs can be used if you don’t want to use Panko breadcrumbs
** Peanut oil, sunflower oil, or other high heat oil can be used. If you want to be decadent, use butter (yum)! Or go totally primeval and use leftover bacon fat for the ultimate taste experience (you did not read that here).