Why This Recipe Works
Making these cakes with leftover mashed potatoes proved to be a nonstarter—the butter and cream in the leftovers made the cakes mushy. Starting fresh, we needed to figure out which potato to use and how much to add. Too much liquid made for cakes that were too loose to shape, so we didn’t add any. Just one egg yolk, some grated Parmesan, and some chives were all we needed. Using russet potatoes resulted in the fluffiest cakes, and some beaten egg helped adhere the bread crumbs to the cakes before frying. One final trick: Be sure to chill the potato mixture for an hour before shaping the cakes.
Ingredients and Directions
Serves 4 to 6
Using two spatulas to flip the cakes helps prevent splattering. We like to change the oil after frying the first batch of cakes because any dark panko remnants left behind will freckle the second batch. You can strain the oil through a fine-mesh strainer if you prefer to reuse it, but be careful because it is very hot. Plan ahead: The cooked mashed potatoes need to chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour, which makes it easier to form the cakes.
2½ pounds russet potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced ¼ inch thick
Salt and pepper
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (½ cup)
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
1 large egg yolk plus 2 large eggs
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 cup vegetable oil
1. Place potatoes in medium saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch, then stir in 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tip of paring knife inserted into potatoes meets no resistance, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to saucepan; let cool for 5 minutes.
2. Add Parmesan, chives, egg yolk, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to cooled potatoes. Using potato masher, mash until smooth and well combined. Transfer potato mixture to bowl and refrigerate until completely cool, about 1 hour.
3. Beat remaining 2 eggs together in shallow dish. Place panko in second shallow dish. Divide potato mixture into 8 equal portions (about ½ cup each) and shape into 3-inch-diameter cakes, about ¾ inch thick. Working with 1 cake at a time, carefully dip cakes in egg mixture, turning to coat both sides and allowing excess to drip off; then coat with panko, pressing gently to adhere. Transfer to plate and let sit for 5 minutes.
4. Line large plate with paper towels. Heat ½ cup oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place 4 cakes in skillet and cook until deep golden brown on first side, about 3 minutes. Using 2 spatulas, carefully flip cakes and continue to cook until deep golden brown on second side, about 2 minutes longer, gently pressing on cakes with spatula for even browning.
5. Transfer cakes to prepared plate. Discard oil and wipe out skillet with paper towels. Repeat with remaining ½ cup oil and remaining 4 cakes. Serve with sour cream.