Dad's party fell shortly after Christmas, so we had a refrigerator full of leftovers, including potatoes and ham. Wanting to use up what we already had on hand, I decided to make ham and potato croquettes, working from a Mario Batali recipe.
Croquettes are perfect finger food, little balls of savory, fried, mashed potato goodness. And they are filling and not expensive to make, even if you don't have a fridge full of leftovers. With or without the ham, they would still be delicious. Even Dan, who strangely does not like mashed potatoes, ate a few.
The only drawback to croquettes is that, like all fried things, they should be served piping hot. So make these after your guests have arrived and serve them immediately with a sprinkle of salt. If you want a little help, you could set up a croquette assembly line, where your friends can form mashed potato balls, roll them in flour and egg and breadcrumbs, and pass them off to you to be fried. Some guests may not want to get their hands dirty, but who wants to be friends with people like that anyway?
Ham and potato croquettes
The recipe calls for olive oil to fry the croquettes, but a less expensive oil like canola will suffice--and is actually more ideal for frying.
(Serves 6 to 8 people)
3 1/2 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (I used Yukon Gold)
4 eggs, separated
1/4 lb. prosciutto cotto (or any cooked ham) cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
Several gratings of nutmeg
1 cup flour
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, for frying (I used canola oil)
Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil. Cook the potatoes in the boiling water until easily pierced with a paring knife, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and, while still hot, pass them through a food mill. Immediately add the egg yolks, prosciutto, butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and nutmeg and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
With moist hands, divide the mixture into golf ball-sized portions and form disks of a 2-inch diameter.
On three separate plates, place the flour, egg whites and bread crumbs. Dredge each disk through each of the plates, starting with the flour, then the egg whites, then the bread crumbs. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil until almost smoking. Cook the disks in the oil, working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, until disks are deep golden brown. Remove disks to a plate lined with paper towels and serve. They can be reheated from room temperature, but should not be refrigerated.