The nice photo here is just to lure you in, but the recipe for these amazing potato croquettes is printed in all its detail below, it's not too late to make them. But I feel as it's Christmas eve it's time for a rant, inspired by this article I read tonight.
We are constantly asked to 'spare a thought' for those less fortunate than ourselves at Christmas, the needy, older folk who may be alone and people who are homeless, all very worthy and I might add refugees living in less than ideal conditions, women forced to live in protected 'shelters' from abusive partners, men suffering abuse and anyone who is having challenges getting through, as the wonderful Prince called it "this thing called life".
Tonight I'm cosy by the fire after visiting friends and family, my lovely sons left earlier to go and spend a few days with their Dublin family so I get fed and watered by my amazing Mum and Dad, we are all looked after and lucky. But there is a marginalised group of people nobody ever talks about, the separated Dads who won't see their kids this Christmas when they want to. Now I know there are many less-than-perfect dads out there who don't do right by their kids, so strike me down for my feelings on this subject. I have friends who are Dads of children that they adore, who won't see them tomorrow and will spend Christmas day with (as said by one friend) a slab of Dutch Gold and McCain oven chips. Christmas is a hard time for many, pressure to be happy, well-off and loved by many, as seen on TV, and many men will spend Christmas alone in small flats that they can only afford due to paying the rent or mortgage on their ex's home as well as maintenance. In dating times I have met some of these men, who had a family one minute and lived in one room in a shared house the next. They are devastated, shell shocked, but they keep going in hope, like people do. I will miss my kids over the next few days, but I can't imagine the pain of never getting to see them whenever I want to. I'm happy to say that we (their parents), never indulged in any of this access stuff, and I don't understand people who use their children as pawns. In this society we are not encouraged to 'pity' men, and I am now a proud Mother of two fine young guys who light up my life who I hope will experience the joy of parenthood in their lives. Bring on the babies, I can't wait to be a Granny!
So as Christmas is all about opening our doors to those in need, yes it is, that's why we light candles in the windows, think about your friends. Do you know a Dad who will just be holding on by his fingernails to get through the longest day of the year, maybe invite him over. I know it it was me, I would really appreciate it.
Happy Christmas to all and make these croquettes if you have hours to spare!
Love, Val xxx
Potato Croquettes as published in Saturday my page in the Irish Examiner Dec 10th 2016
I’m devoting my entire page to one recipe this week, probably because the recipe is for the single, most important food feature on the biggest food day of the year. It’s for potato croquettes, and used to be my responsibility but now it’s the bit my brother does with a good system, sitting at the kitchen table on Christmas eve before hitting the local pub, happily not after. Frozen croquettes are yummy in their own way but, once you begin to open your eyes to food additives, it’s hard to ignore them, anyway these are a million times tastier. The croquette is my single, most favourite thing on my dinner plate, yes, even beyond the delicious ham or the turkey, which, to me is really only a means to make gravy. These croquettes are very simple in terms of ingredients, but can’t be underestimated in terms of what they give back. They are crunchy pillows of yielding, puffy potato. They are the soaker up of all the flavours on your plate. The croquette must be ignored until almost the end of your meal, but not until you are too full to enjoy it. With bits of salty ham, some sprout smidgins, maybe a little braised red cabbage, sausage stuffing crumbs, all lolling in a tasty pool, the croquette sits there innocently gathering up a little taste from here, a flavour from there. When you cut through it, still crunchy on the top, and deliver it into your lucky mouth, the sensations of your whole dinner will be together in that one moment. Savour it. It’s a bit like the everlasting gobstopper from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (the first one, we don’t talk about the second), but savoury, which is always better as there’s still time for desert.
So for the recipe, it’s really worth going to the trouble of making these, you can do them anytime and freeze them by wrapping them on a plate, in cling film or parchment and then cling film and then you can just deep-fry them on the day. The recipe I’m writing is for 1kg of spuds and you can argue until you’re blue in the face about which potato you want to use but everyone goes mad for Maris Pipers at Christmas and who am I to argue? You want something that’s not crazy floury but not waxy either.
So this all about a system, flour, egg, breadcrumbs, in that order. Once you mash your spuds, set out the three bowls on the table and a large chopping board for rolling the spuds. I shape all the croquettes from the potato, one after the other and set them aside on plates, the follow by dipping them into the flour, then set aside again, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs. It’s messy for sure and you will get goo all over your hands but so what, drink some wine while you’re doing it and you won’t even notice.
You can double or triple these quantites, this lot will make about 12 average sized croquettes
1kg/ 2lb floury spuds, steam them so the keep their shape and don’t make potato soup
25g/ 1oz butter
2 whole eggs - cracked into the bowl and whisked lightly
50g/2oz plain flour (or gluten free is you’re going gluten free)
100g/4oz breadcrumbs, you can use any kind you want here, white, sourdough or gluten free
Salt and pepper
Oil for deep frying
- Steam the spuds. Put a tea towel over them and under the lid of the steamer when they are done and leave them cool a bit before mashing. This will absorb the excess moisture.
- Mash the potato using just butter and salt and pepper, adding milk will make them far too runny plus they will go off too fast. You want a fairly dry mash.
- Lay out the bowls for the crumbs on in a row on the table, containing the flour in the first, the egg in the second and the breadcrumbs in the third. If you run out of one or the other, don’t freak out, just top it up.
- Sit down and get comfy.
- Spoon an amount of spud thats the size of a small bird in your hand and, using your other hand, roll it into a short, fat sausage. Tip the ends off the chopping board to flatten them, it’s all about a light touch here.
- Line the shaped spuds up and use up all the mash to make as many as you can.
- Now dip each one into the flour, dipping the ends in too, it’s important that the whole croquette is covered.
- Repeat this with the egg, this bit will be dribbly and messy, and then do the breadcrumbs. Lay them on plates in a single layer.
- At this point you can freeze the croquettes or keep them in the fridge overnight, wrapped loosely in cling-film.
- Timing is everything on Christmas day so at least half an hour before you are ready to sit down to eat, heat up some oil in a pan. This is the one time I will concede to deep frying as it really is the best. Put a few croquettes into the frying basket, not too many as it will cool the oil down too much, and lower them in. About five minutes should do it to cook them, watch that they don’t fall apart, but they shouldn’t. Handle them carefully, putting them onto some kitchen paper on a plate in a warm oven. Keep going until you have fried them all.
Some folks might prefer to bake these in the oven, in that case heat the oven to 200degreesC and put the croquettes onto a roasting tray, drizzling them with olive oil, rapeseed oil or melted coconut oil and bake them for 20 minutes.
Croquettes know no bounds so feel free to spice up this recipe, but when they are doused in delicious, meaty gravy you just won’t need to. In this case, why mess with tradition?