This simple dish was called “Potatoe Balls” in the 18th and early 19th centuries and an original recipe for this dish appears in Mary Randolph’s cookery book The Virginia Housewife published in 1824. These croquettes are a good way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. While the base recipe is simple, feel free to add spices or herbs to your liking. Nutmeg, imported from the West Indies, was a common ingredient in early American kitchens—even in savory preparations. Minced chives are a good addition as is grated cheese—1/2 cup of grated gruyere or 4 tablespoons soft goat cheese are two choices.
- 2 Pounds Russet potatoes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 egg yolk and 1 beaten egg
- 1 cup or more as needed Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 cup safflower oil
Makes about 18, serves 6 to 8
- Cook the potatoes: Boil the potatoes, with their skin, in a large pot with enough water to cover. Cook until tender—about 20-25 minutes.
- Drain potatoes and cool slightly until easy to handle and peel. Mash well and stir in the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Allow the mixture to cool completely.
- Add the egg yolk to potato mixture and mix well to incorporate.
- Lightly wet your (clean!) hands and roll the mixture into golf-ball sized balls.
- Dip potato balls in the beaten egg, then roll them in bread crumbs to coat. Repeat with all the potato balls and then refrigerate for 15 minutes up to an hour.
- Heat the oil in a large, deep bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Test the oil by dropping a bit of flour into the oil. If it immediately sizzles, then the oil is ready.
- Place the potato balls gently into the hot oil, and fry until lightly browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. For a healthier option, place the potato balls on a baking sheet in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.