What can you make with leftover mashed potatoes? That’s a question that troubles many a cook after Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter dinner. Of course you can reheat and eat them, or dollop them on top of some Shepard’s Pie. . . but why not try something a little different this year? With just a bit of extra time you can make some delicious Potato Croquettes.
Walmart asked me as one of the Walmart Moms to share a holiday recipe, and being frugal minded I chose to concentrate on what to do with the leftovers. In the past I’ve shared a Turkey Monte Cristo sandwich, my Turkey Tetrazzini recipe, a suggestion to use leftover turkey in homemade egg rolls and even a Cranberry Turkey Walnut sandwich ring. This year I wanted to replicate something Yankee Bill and I used to love to order when we lived in Germany — Potato Croquettes (Kartoffelkroketten or Kroketten for short). These were sort of a “secret” menu item most of the time–if your meal came with a potato side dish (spatzel, fried potatoes etc) then usually you could just ask for Kroketten instead and they’d have them.
I knew the basic premise–make a dough out of egg, cold leftover mashed potatoes, and spices. Then bread and fry. But I wasn’t quite sure of the proportions. So I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks– Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything”. Seriously–if you don’t have this book or you have a cook on your Christmas list who doesn’t have it I would highly suggest it as a gift. About 10 years ago I bought a copy for every single adult in my family and we ALL use it frequently.
Once I had given the recipe a look I went ahead with my own. Now I know this is going to drive some of you nuts, because I’m only going to give approximations. Take a deep breath-it’s ok. The whole point here is to use up mashed potatoes (or squash, or sweet potatoes) that you have left over and not to have to cook, mash and cool potatoes just to make this recipe (although you can if you want). So you will be able to take this technique and make it work with whatever amount you have. Don’t worry- there is an actual “recipe” at the bottom of this post (although it is a bit vague).
1. In a large bowl combine your potatoes (I had about 2 cups), eggs (1-2), Parmesan cheese (around 1/2 C), nutmeg ( I used a good dash but you can use 1/8tsp if you need a measurement), and salt and pepper.
2. Mix it all together well. I like to just dive in and use my hands. You could do this in a mixer if you don’t like getting your hands dirty. I prefer not to get my mixer dirty.
3. Add flour and mix until you have a soft dough that you can form into logs. I wound up adding almost a cup of flour–your mileage will vary depending on the types of potatoes you use, how wet they were, if you had already added milk & butter when you made your mashed potatoes etc. Just keep adding and mixing till it seems right.
4. Place formed logs into the fridge for at least an hour. This will cause the potatoes to firm up. You know how mashed potatoes are all soft when on the table, but if you refrigerate them overnight they come out in a solid block? That’s the effect you are looking for!
5. Roll your potato logs in breadcrumbs with some parsley added. Or just use seasoned breadcrumbs.
6. Gently move your croquettes to your hot oil and fry until golden brown. Several tips on frying:
- I have a Fry Daddy so I use that–it brings the oil up to the right temperature and is narrower and deeper than the pots I would use. If I had it to do all over again though, I’d probably buy something like the Hamilton Beach Professional Deep Fryer. It’s got a built in basket and because of the heating element and the size you can do more food per batch.
- Pick a good frying oil. Olive oil or butter don’t work-the smoke point is too low. I usually use canola oil–some people favor peanut or even shortening. Lard would taste fabulous I’m sure.
- You need to heat your oil up to between 365-375 for deep frying. Using oil at the correct temperature helps to make the outside crisp up and seal immediately–which keeps the oil from soaking into the food. If you temperature is too low the food will cook more slowly and you’ll have much greasier food. Cook at too high a temp and the outside is done before the inside cooks. If you aren’t using a fryer which controls the temperature automatically, then use an inexpensive candymaking/deep frying thermometer to be sure you are in the right temperature range (note–this is different than a meat thermometer which only goes up to about 200) .
- Don’t crowd the pan. The food you add is much colder than the hot oil, so it will cause the temperature to drop inside your pot for a bit. If you put in about 3 pieces or less your oil should be able to come back up to temperature quickly enough to give you that nice crisp seal around your food that keep the oil from soaking in too much.
7. Remove the croquettes from the oil. I like to use an Asian style “spider” strainer.
8. Drain and serve hot. I usually just put one of my cookie racks over a sheet pan. If you need to keep them warm for a little bit you could turn your oven on to “warm” or whatever the lowest setting is (or just turn it on for a little bit and then turn it off and use the residual heat) and place the croquettes inside. Just remember–fried foods don’t stay crispy and tasty forever!
- Leftover Mashed Potatoes
- 2 Eggs
- 1/2 C Parmesan Cheese
- 1/8 tsp Nutmeg
- Pepper & Salt to taste
- Parsley Flakes
- Oil for Frying
- In a bowl mix cold mashed potatoes, egg, cheese, nutmeg, salt & pepper.
- Add flour if needed/as needed until you have a soft dough.
- Form dough into logs and place in the fridge for an hour or more to firm up.
- When ready to cook, heat your frying oil (1-2" deep in your pot and 365-375 degrees).
- Remove croquettes from fridge and roll in breadcrumbs mixed with a bit of parsley. The amount will depend on how many croquettes you made.
- Fry in batches of 3 until golden brown on the outside. Drain and serve hot.
- The same technique can be used with any "mashed" type of vegetable--winter squash, sweet potato etc.
- Cheddar or Mozzarella cheese could be used instead.
- Chopped or diced meat can be added to the croquettes--ham, turkey, sausage.
- The original recipe is mild--you can increase/add to seasonings with garlic, onion etc.
- Have leftover stuffing? You can combine stuffing and mashed potatoes!
So when you head on out to Walmart to pick up all the supplies for your holiday meal–maybe you should buy and make some extra potatoes just so you can try these fabulous Potato Croquettes!
Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.