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Meat and herb-filled potato

Croquettesrollos de karne i patata

A scrumptious addition to this year’s festive Sephardic Passover table are potato croquettes stuffed with a mouthwatering meat, fresh herb and pine nut filling that are deep fried until golden and crunchy. My mother’s Turkish inspired recipe for rollos de karne make a tasty alternative to the traditional Pesach signature dish of the Jews of Rhodes – the meat and matza bake, mina, or quajado de karne, a dish of ancient origin that dates back to our Iberian ancestors of Medieval Spain.


For the meat filling:

3 tbsp olive oil

¾ cup finely chopped spring onions (scallions)

500g (1lb 2oz) ground beef or veal

¼ cup hot chicken stock

2 eggs, hard-boiled and coarsely chopped

2 tbsp pine nuts

3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tsp sea salt; finely ground white pepper

¼ tsp cumin


For the potato mixture:

1kg (2¼lb) potatoes, unpeeled

1 tsp sea salt; finely ground white pepper

2 eggs, lightly beaten

¼ cup matza meal


For coating:

1 cup matza cake flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten with a tablespoon of olive oil

1½ cups matza meal


For deep frying:

vegetable oil

Prepare the filling: Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat. Add the spring onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes, until softened. Add the meat, making sure the meat is covering the base of the pan. Leave for 2-3 minutes so that the meat seals underneath before you start stirring. Crumble the meat with a fork to break up the meat as it colours for about 10 minutes. Pour in the hot chicken stock and simmer, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Stir in the eggs, pine nuts, parsley, salt and pepper.


Put the potatoes in a pan with enough cold salted water to just cover. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Drain and whilst still hot (using a fork to hold the potato steady and tongs to peel off the skin), peel and return to the pan for about 1 minute to dry off any excess moisture. Put through a potato ricer. Mix well with the beaten eggs, salt, pepper and matza meal.


Shape the croquettes: With a small bowl of water nearby, dampen your hands and break off a portion of the potato mixture the size of an egg and shape into a ball. Hold the ball in the cup of your left hand using your right thumb to flatten the potato so that it takes the shape of your palm. Put 1 heaped teaspoon of the meat filling in the centre of the potato mixture and press the edges together to seal over the filling and roll between your hands to shape into a smooth oval. Repeat with the remaining potato and meat mixtures. (The croquettes can be prepared ahead to this point and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).


Coat the croquettes: Dredge lightly in the matza cake flour, then dip into the beaten egg mixture, ensuring all sides are well-coated and roll in the matza meal. Place on a tray lined with baking paper to ‘set’.


To fry: Heat 5cm (2in) oil in a medium-sized pan on a high heat. Fry the croquettes in small batches for about 4 minutes, turning once, until golden brown all over. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately or keep warm in an oven on low heat.