Monday, December 5, 2011

Crunchy Loaded Potato Cakes

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When I was first married, I wasn't much into cooking. Baking was something I'd done since I was a teenager and I turned to cookie baking as a form of stress relief - I think the fact that I ate half the batter helped.

However, after my first son was born, I found myself glued to the late night shows on Food Network. I watched Emeril with fascination, and I still remember Ina Garten's episode "Kids in a Candy Store" and couldn't wait to replicate some of her dishes. It wasn't long before I was whipping up amazing meals that made my husband fall in love with me all over again.

Now that I'm more comfortable in the kitchen, I'm more of what Rachael Ray would probably call an "Eyeballer" because I don't always measure what I through into a recipe. Especially if it's something I've made before or something I can alter after a quick taste test (think soups and such).

This is one of those eyeballer recipes, although I made a point to measure what I did so that I could share with you. But honestly, you don't need to measure, either. Just throw in what you love. Add extra bacon, use a different cheese, omit green onions, it doesn't matter. It's all about you and what you love and I guarantee these will be a favorite potato dish!

This dish uses leftover mashed potatoes. I always make WAY too many potatoes, but I also enjoy leftovers so maybe I unconsciously make too many. If you don't have leftover potatoes, make your favorite mashed potato recipe (NOT instant potatoes, they won't hold together) and let sit in the fridge for 4-6 hours.

You want the potatoes to be at room temperature or slightly warm (microwave works great), otherwise the outsides will get nice and crispy but the insides will still be cold. I stick mine in the microwave for 30 second intervals, mixing in between, until about room temperature.

Add your ingredients together in a bowl and mix together. I use cooked and crumbled bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, and green onions.
Form your mixed potato mixture into patties, relatively thick, otherwise they'll be too delicate and fall apart on you. Mine were about the size of golf balls and then slightly flattened.
Using a basting brush, give the potatoes a light coating of beaten egg and then dip in the seasoned panko crumbs. You can use regular bread crumbs but they won't be nearly as crunchy. If you've never tried panko, you're really doing yourself an injustice. They are located next to the bread crumbs in your grocery store and will be your go-to bread crumbs forever.
The potatoes were so crispy and warm and flavorful. They turn your leftover potatoes into a bit of heaven. We had dinner guests who literally bartered with each other for the last potato cake!

Crispy Loaded Potato Cakes
By Kelli Lafranca

4 cups previously made mashed potatoes
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup green onions, dark green and light green parts chopped
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
Vegetable oil, for frying

In a large bowl, mix the potatoes, bacon, cheese, and green onions.
Place the beaten egg and water in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, combine the panko with the seasonings.

Using your hands, form the mixture into balls the size of a golf ball and flatten slightly. Working one at a time, using a pastry or basting brush, lightly coat the potato ball with the beaten egg and then into the panko crumbs.

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom. Make sure the oil is very hot before adding your potato cakes, otherwise the oil will just make them soggy. Fry the potatoes in batches (I fit about 6 in a pan at a time), flipping them over when the bottoms are golden brown. Cook until both sides are golden brown. Serve immediately.

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