About the Recipe
These scrumptious meat-filled crisp potato croquettes are my mother’s recipe inspired by her Turkish roots. It is a superb alternative to their traditional matza bake at Passover. Although they are a bit fiddly to prepare they are really worthwhile the effort. I like to freeze these, uncooked, as a fabulous standby especially when my grandchildren are around. I simply fry the frozen croquettes in hot oil and serve with a fresh green salad with tangy dressing.
For the meat filling: 3 tbsp olive oil 3⁄4 cup finely chopped scallions (spring onions) 500g (1lb 2oz) ground beef or veal 1⁄4 cup hot chicken stock 2 eggs, hard-boiled and coarsely chopped 2 tbsp pine nuts 3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, use leaves and tender stems
2 tbsp finely chopped dill 1 tsp sea salt pinch of finely ground white pepper
For the potato mixture: 1kg (21⁄4lb) potatoes, unpeeled
1 tsp sea salt finely ground white pepper
1-2 eggs, lightly beaten 1⁄4 cup fresh breadcrumbs or matza meal
For breading: 1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour 2 eggs, lightly beaten with a tablespoon of olive oil
11⁄2 cups dried breadcrumbs or matza cake flour
For deep frying: vegetable or grape-seed 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, dill, 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 breadcrumbs or 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).
Bread the croquettes: Dredge lightly in the flour, then dip into the beaten egg mixture, ensuring all sides are well-coated and roll in the breadcrumbs. Place on a tray lined with baking paper to ‘set’.
To fry: Heat 5cm (2in) oil in a medium 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.
Use a 41⁄2cm (13⁄4in) ice cream scoop to form firmly packed, evenly sized potato balls.
For Passover, substitute the breadcrumbs with matza meal and plain flour with matza cake flour.
Open-freeze the crumbed uncooked croquettes in a single layer until solid (about 1 hour). Then stack between layers of baking paper in an airtight container and freeze for up to 1 month. When required, place the frozen croquettes in hot oil and fry as above.