I really see the task of repurposing food from the fridge as something that challenges my culinary creativity, thus something I really enjoy doing. Such is the case with this recipe which was born of some mashed potatoes leftover from dinner.
Being an instant hit among friends and family, I now prepare this cocktail favorite from scratch, rather than working on leftovers. Much like I would normally start my mash, I boil my potatoes skin-on. Leaving the skin on for now would keep much of the natural starch in those potatoes from leaking out into the boiling liquid, giving my mash more density and binding ability.
Once fork tender, which would take around 20 minutes of boiling, I leave the potatoes out to cool enough to be handled, peel them, and finally mash them in a large mixing bowl. Leaving the mash a bit chunky would also be a nice touch for this intended recipe.
To add some depth of flavor, we'll be adding some fine bits of shallots into the mix. Try to mince them as fine as you can. Bigger chunks could cause your potato balls to crack as they fry. Furthermore, most people would find biting into large chunks of shallots too overpowering to the palate and quite unpleasant.
Once the shallots soften up and turn slightly translucent, turn the heat off and leave the pan out to cool.
Time to fold in our flavor ingredients into the mash. The shallots go in, together with the melted butter in the pan. Not only will that butter add flavor and richness, it'll add moisture and give our potato balls a creamy texture in the end.
I originally went for sardines to stuff these potato balls, being the only ingredient I could find in my pantry when I first created this recipe. I did try using ham, cheese, bacon, and herbs on a few different occasions with equal success.
Once thoroughly mixed, it's time to shape these potatoes. I use a standard ice cream scoop to keep my balls uniformly-sized, which would later translate to even cooking.
Don't be limited to making spheres though. Try shaping them into rectangular croquettes, small logs, or lay the mixture flat on a baking tray and use a lightly floured cookie cutter to create more interesting shapes.
Next, set up your breading station. These balls get a dusting of flour, then dipped into an egg wash, and finally coated evenly with Panko breadcrumbs. While a finer crumb would certainly work, the coarser grain of Panko gives extra crunch the the balls' exterior.
These potato balls are finished off in very hot oil, just for a few seconds to get that crust brown and crisp. I strongly suggest that you fry in small batches to keep the temperature inside your fryer from dropping.
Once golden, scoop them out of the oil with a slotted spoon and set them to drain off any excess oil on some kitchen towels.