Thursday, December 13, 2012

Baked Minced Potatoes with Cream, Garlic, and Cheese

Walking back from the mailbox, arms laden with toy catalogs and Christmas cards, a frigid gust blew a Toys R' Us mailer out of my grasp.  It seemed to sprout wings as it glided 15 feet in the air, threatening to land in the holly bushes before making its descent to earth.  It blew swiftly along the road.  As I awkwardly speed-walked with an uneven gait, trying to halt its errant voyage with my foot, I thought, "I should try to make that minced potato thing for dinner tonight."

A woman's thought process:  the source of endless fascination and mystery. 

This recipe originates in the Tuscan kitchen of Sarah Fioroni, author of "A Family Farm in Tuscany:  Recipes and Stories from Fattoria Poggio Alloro".  I made it last month--the full, feeds-a-huge-herd-of-hungry-men version--when I prepared a feast for my husband as he returned from his 15 day, 165-mile hike.  Except I foolishly assembled it the night before and left it unbaked in the fridge.  Duh.  The potatoes turned a most unappealing shade of black.  Rookie mistake.  

This time I decided to halve the recipe (the original makes a 13" x 9" dish and easily serves 8) and tinker with the ingredients a wee bit.

The recipe calls for minced potatoes.  Unless you need to kill about an hour and are just aching to try out your new knife, I suggest using a food processor.  (If you don't have one, use pre-shredded potatoes (like the ones near the dairy section of the grocery store used for hash browns) and just mince and chop the heck out of them. 

I began by peeling and chopping these potatoes into the size shown above; then I shredded them in my food processor.  And then I put in the steel blade attachment and minced them finely.  (Seems like a lot of work...but the steps from the peeling through the mincing took less than 10 minutes...)

Nearly 3 cups of minced potatoes later...

Next, I mixed the potatoes with whipping cream (you can substitute half-and-half or whole milk), garlic powder, a finely diced onion, melted butter, salt, pepper, a beaten egg, and some Parmesan and Swiss cheeses. 

I love the promise of a buttered and floured baking dish.

Fill the dish with the mixture,

And top with Swiss or Parmesan cheese.  I loved, loved, loved the flavor of the Swiss on top, but you can swap it out for Parmesan as Sarah originally suggested.

(I baked it on top of a cookie sheet, just to be on the safe side.  With my history of setting my oven aflame and all...)

Sprinkled with chopped parsley, it was the pinnacle of comfort and warmth.

Baked Minced Potatoes with Cream, Garlic, and Cheese
Serves 6 as a side item

5 small/medium-sized russet potatoes (about 1.75 pounds), peeled and finely minced
1 cup heavy cream (substitute half-and-half or whole milk)
1 and 3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese, divided
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup finely diced yellow onion (about 1 small onion)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley (optional topping)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter and flour an 8"x8" baking dish (or a dish of similar size...). Set aside.

(If you mince the potatoes in a food processor, be sure to drain off the liquid.  Be careful not to over-process them to the point of mush.)

Combine all ingredients except 1 cup of the Swiss cheese and the parsley in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Turn out into the prepared baking dish; scatter the reserved Swiss cheese over the top.  Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until top has lightly browned and the center is firm.  Remove from oven and sprinkle chopped parsley over the top, if desired.

Serve hot.


LovetheBeach said...

This looks so good! I am going to try it this weekend, I just found it on pinterest. Thanks for sharing it!