Years back, we took a family trip to Italy for over a month. We basked in the sun, visited relatives, ate to our hearts content and struck out on road trips every so often.
Our relatives were amused that we recognized and knew all their foods and favourite meals. After travelling it was great to have some comfort food too. There’s something about being away from home that heightens our taste buds. Their patate fritte, though just like my Nonno’s, tasted fresher and more vibrant. Why? Who knows, but I still remember it well.
Well into our trip, we travelled from my mom’s small hometown to a nearby city to do some shopping. As the afternoon closure of shops approached, we grabbed some quick street food for our ride back. Among the typical southern Italian quick eats, like arancini, were crocchette di patate (potato croquettes). Have I mentioned I love potatoes? But these I have never tried before! I scarfed down two in record time. They were so good and I was so ticked off. I was convinced my mom had withheld this recipe, this glorious form of potato, from our regular Italian meals.
This food memory stayed with me for years and a few times I’ve tried to make great crocchette just like I remember them. My husband’s family makes a lightly pan-fried version of this, stuffing the middle with a chunk of mozzarella. Having something hidden in the middle is always a nice surprise, but I just love the potatoes, so I tried out this recipe until I found a mix that I loved. Crunchy on the outside, creamy and rich on the inside, these crocchette are great as a side dish or a snack.
Crocchette di patate
3 medium potatoes
1/4 cup Parmiggiano Reggiano (grated)
1/4 cup mozzarella (shredded)
1/8 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon cool water
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
canola or vegetable oil for frying
Peel and boil the potatoes. When they are cooked through (a fork pierces them easily), drain them from the water and allow them to cool and dry out completely. This can be done a day or so in advance. Mash the potatoes well, into almost a puree, or put through a potato ricer, which is what I did.
Mix the potatoes with one egg, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper until well combined.
Using a tablespoon as a measure, roll a heaping tablespoon of the mixture by hand into 2-inch oblongs. They are now ready to coat in breadcrumbs. If you find your crocchette are a bit soft, you can place them in the refrigerator for one to two hours to firm up.
Break up the remaining two eggs, mixing it with one tablespoon of water, in a bowl. In a second bowl place 1 1/4 cups of bread crumbs. Roll the croquettes in the egg wash then coat in breadcrumbs.
Using a deep pot, heat around two cups of oil on medium-high heat. You’ll need enough to just cover the crocchette. Once heated, carefully place the crocchette in the oil for two to three minutes each, turning them once or twice to get an even golden brown colour. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Serve hot.