My Sissy is an excellent cook. She can work magic in the kitchen with nothing but a prayer in the pantry, and her country cookin’ is da bomb. A couple of days ago, I made a heap of garlic mashed potatoes, and I wanted to do something other than just reheat the leftovers, so I called up my Sissy for a little culinary inspiration. She helped me whip up a batch of potato cakes over the phone. I have many fond memories of these crispy little potato patties, creamy on the inside, served hot out of the pan with a drizzle of ketchup on top.
It’s one of those things every good country cook can make, but it’s nearly impossible to find a recipe for them. Some books call them “potato pancakes” which is a little misleading, because they aren’t anything like a pancake or crepe. They’re a little more like a latke, except latkes use grated raw potato like hash browns (related to but not the same as home fries, which use sliced or diced potatoes). Good potato cakes start out with good mashed potatoes that have been in the fridge overnight. My garlic mashed potatoes recipe is at the bottom of this post.
They were as good as I remember . . . better, in fact. The “loaded” version is also extremely tasty and would make a delicious companion for a nice juicy rib eye steak.
Country Style Potato Cakes
2 C cold mashed potatoes
1/2 small onion, minced and sauteed (optional)
1/3 – 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp mustard
olive oil + butter for pan frying
Mix together potatoes, egg, mustard, and cooked onion. Add enough flour (up to 1/2 cup) to hold potato mixture together. The mixture should not be too stiff, but if your leftover potatoes are very moist, you may need to add extra flour.
Melt 1 Tbs butter with 1 Tbs olive oil in frying pan over medium heat. Drop a heaping spoonful of potato mix in the pan. Spread it gently to form a small patty about 1/2 inch thick. Make several cakes, but don’t crowd the pan.
Fry until crisp and golden on both sides (turning once). Add more butter/olive oil between batches.
Transfer to wire rack to cool slightly. Serve hot with ketchup on the side.
Loaded Potato Cakes
Add 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese to the potato mixture.
Top with sour cream, bacon crumbles, and green onion.
A Few Notes:
- Putting the cakes on a rack for just a couple of minutes after frying keeps the outside crispy. They’ll hold their heat long enough to finish the batch.
- Some folks make a stiffer potato mix (using more flour), then shape the patties and dredge them in flour before frying. I think this makes the potato cakes tough and can affect the taste, plus it’s not really necessary.
- Potato cakes are a blank canvas. They accept many variations in flavour, and can be altered or garnished to suit personal tastes. Ginger Man likes his with spicy mayo (mayo mixed with Frank’s hot sauce). I think topping them with a poached egg and some hollandaise sauce would make a nice change for brunch.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
3 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes (diced and boiled until tender)
1 Tbs garlic minced (about three cloves)
2 Tbs butter
1/3 Cup sour cream
1/4 Cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
Saute the garlic briefly in butter (1 or 2 minutes). Drain the cooked potatoes, then mash them up with the garlic butter and remaining ingredients until smooth and creamy. Reserve about 2 cups of mashed potato for potato cakes. Store covered in refrigerator.