Monday, January 20, 2014

Loaded Potato Cakes

This recipe was developed out of a necessity to use up leftover mashed potatoes that were just sitting in the refrigerator, taking up space and mocking me every time I looked at them. Okay, maybe they were not really mocking me, but it sure felt like it. Reheated potatoes are not what I believe anyone would call a delicious side dish, however, you also don't want to be wasteful and throw them away. So what do you do?
A common use for leftover mashed potatoes in the South are to make potato cakes. However, although both my husband and I grew up with this dish, neither of us enjoyed them. The typical potato cake from our childhood was just a lump of mashed potatoes mixed with some sliced onions and fried into a bland, bread-like mass. I know plenty of people that enjoy them, but I am not one of them. So, in an effort to reinvent this dish, I drew on the inspiration of a platter of loaded cheese fries. By adding bacon and cheese while also cutting down on the flour, these cakes are creamy while also completely indulgent. With this recipe in my repertoire, I think I will be making excess mashed potatoes on purpose!

2 Cups Leftover/Cold Mashed Potatoes
2 Strips Bacon, Sliced
1 teaspoon Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Shredded Cheddar Cheese
3 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 Egg
1 pinch Salt
1 pinch Black Pepper

Yield: 8 Cakes, 4 Servings
1. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil and sliced bacon over medium heat. Cook the bacon bits until completely crisp, approximately 5 minutes. Place the cooked bacon pieces on a paper towel to drain. Remove excess oil from the pan, leaving 2 teaspoons of oil for frying the potato cakes, reserving the excess.
2. While the bacon cooks, combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. The mixture should be thick but not stiff. Add the bacon pieces. Stir to combine.
3. Spoon the batter into reserved grease with the skillet over medium heat. As you place the batter into the oil, carefully level the top of the mounds. You want each potato cake to be about half an inch thick.
4. Cook on the first side until a deep golden brown. This should take 3 minutes. If the cakes are browning too fast, you need to reduce the heat. When brown and crisp, flip to the other side and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
5. Repeat with for the remaining batter. Depending on the size of your skillet, this may take 1 to 2 additional cookings as you do not want to crowd the pan. If you need to add additional oil to the pan between cookings, simply add the reserved bacon drippings.
6. Enjoy the potato cakes as a side with dinner, during breakfast with eggs, or as an appetizer with a nice glass of wine and chive sour cream.

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