Potato Crocche: Crocche di Patate

Potato Crocche:  Crocche di Patate

Although we are more familiar with the French croquette, potato crocchè (crocchè di patate) – small parcels of mashed potato with egg and cheese, coated with breadcrumbs and fried – are of Sicilian origin.  The Monzu (a corruption of the French word monsieur) were the renown French chefs employed by the Sicilian aristocracy.  Many dishes in Sicilian cuisine have French names due to the exchange of cultures while under the influence of Norman rulers.  The Monzu chefs made a huge impact on Sicilian cuisine.  Did you know that bignè (beignet), brioche, profiteroles, and béchamel sauce are also Sicilian dishes?

POTATO CROCCHÈ: CROCCHÈ DI PATATE

Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 10 crocchè.

For the Crocchè:
2 large russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley (optional)
3/4 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
Few gratings fresh nutmeg or 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Small cubes of ham or prosciutto (optional)
Light olive oil or vegetable oil for frying

For the Breading:
1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten

MAKE THE POTATO MIXTURE:  Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold salted water (about 1 1/2 teaspoons for 4 cups of water).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Drain the potatoes in a colander.  Transfer to a large bowl and mash well using a potato masher.

Let the potatoes cool for 15 minutes.  Stir in the eggs, cheese, parsley, salt, nutmeg, and black pepper to taste.

MAKE THE CROCCHÈ:  Place enough oil in a deep fry pot or frying pan to the depth of 1 1/2-inches and heat to 275-280 degrees F.  Place the eggs, flour, and breadcrumbs in individual small, shallow bowls and set aside.

Use a large 4-ounce ice cream/cookie scoop to help make the crocchè uniform in size or use a 1/4 cup measuring cup.

Place a level scoop of the potato mixture in the palm of your hand and add a cube of ham in the middle.

Form into a cone or ball shape enclosing the ham.  Repeat with remaining potato mixture.

Dredge the crocchè first in flour, then coat with egg, and roll in breadcrumbs.

FRY THE CROCCHÈ:  Fry the crocchè in batches until golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes. Do not overcrowd the crocchè when cooking. Serve while still warm. Leftover crocchè can be refrigerated for up to 2 days and reheated in the oven or microwave.

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