A few summers ago on the Amalfi coast we had the most amazing potato croquettes at Il Pirata in Praiano. We could have eaten nothing but potato croquettes for dinner. Il Pirata is definitely one of our favorite restaurants on the Amalfi coast. It’s directly on the Mediterranean and the fastest way to get there from our hotel was by water taxi.
We don’t like to fry food at home, but we made an exception when Sarah discovered the exact recipe for Il Pirata’s potato croquettes in one of our favorite cookbooks we brought home from Rome. According to the book, the 80-year old mother of the owners of Il Pirata still makes hundreds of potato croquettes by hand each day.
Making the croquettes is surprisingly uncomplicated. The potatoes need to be boiled until they are very soft, then put through either a potato ricer or food mill. We used this food mill with the finest die. It’s also important to cut the smoked mozzarella into uniform size pieces so that all of your croquettes are the same size. Then simply take a ball of dough, pat it flat in your hand and wrap it around the cheese. We rolled them on a quarter sized sheet pan to make them perfectly cylindrical and made sure the ends were sealed so the cheese didn’t leak into the frying oil.
As we mentioned, we really don’t fry at home, so we don’t have a fryer. You can use a high-sided stock pot and a candy thermometer, especially for a small frying task like this. Honestly the best way to fry food is to do it outside. Our old place in Chicago had a grill with a side burner, which was great for cooking things that you didn’t want your house to smell like. We just got these plates for our patio parties this summer, and we also like these, these, and these.
- 1 lb starchy potatoes
- 5 oz smoked cheese, like mozzarella
- 3 oz Grana Padano, grated
- 2 Tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- 2 eggs, separated
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are very tender and pierce easily with a fork. Remove the skins from the potatoes and process through a food mill on the finest die or a potato ricer into a large mixing bowl.
- While the potatoes cool, cut the smoked cheese into rectangles about ½” thick, ½ “ wide, and 1” long. Set aside.
- Once the potatoes have cooled, add the grated Grana Padano, parsley, and 2 egg yolks. Season with salt and pepper, and stir well to combine.
- When you are ready to prepare the croquettes, heat the oil to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Working on a sheet pan, pull off a piece of dough a little smaller than a golf ball. Flatten in the palm of your hand and place a rectangle of cheese in the center. Fold the edges of the dough over the cheese, then roll on the sheet pan to form a cylinder and press in the edges to seal in the cheese. Repeat this process with the remaining pieces of cheese. You should have about 25 croquettes.
- Immediately before cooking, dip each croquette in egg whites and toss it in the bread crumbs. Put in the hot oil immediately and cook until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.