Cheesy Potato and Pancetta Cakes
I’m usually quite health conscious when it comes to preparing meals for the family, however, I’m
going to turn a blind eye going to admit it, loud and clear, that this isn’t necessarily the “lightest” or healthiest meal. I mean, potatoes are healthy and a small amount of cheese (or lard) never hurt anyone, right?! In my defence, the Italians eat like this all the time…and they don’t seem to have issues with their weight like us North Americans do!
Anyway, back to the recipe at hand…it’s simple, fun to make (for older toddlers) and so tasty!! I made an extra few for the family and they devoured them! I’ve also given some substitution options for those who might be
afraid unfamiliar with pancetta (I know, the pieces of lard ARE scary but the flavour makes up for it!!)
(makes about 8 medium-sized patties)
2 cups mashed potatoes (I used about 10 small potatoes from the garden)
100g (or about 1/2 cup) cubed pancetta (or diced Peameal bacon, cooked ham, chicken, turkey or prosciutto)
1 slice of Edam cheese (or 1-2 ounces of grated or cubed cheese of your choice)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil for frying, 1 tbsp. olive oil for mixture (optional)
1-2 tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan (to add some bite without adding salt!)
The next time I make these I’ll also add onions and/or chives for some color and freshness (it’s hard to prepare meals when you’re not in the comfort of your own kitchen and can’t find anything you’re looking for!)
Freshly “picked” potatoes from the garden.
I used Edam slices that I found in the fridge for this recipe but you could also use grated mozzarella or Babybel. You can find pancetta in your local grocery store and usually comes in a two-pack.
In a medium saucepot bring water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes or until a fork inserted in the potato comes out easily. Remove from heat and rinse with cold water until cool to the touch. Peel the potatoes, add olive oil (if desired)and mash (I find that adding olive oil makes them easier to mash.)
Cook pancetta on medium-low heat for about 2 minutes. You’ll know it’s cooked once it turns translucent. (If you overcook the pancetta it might become too hard and crispy for baby to chew on!)
Remove pancetta from the frying pan and drain on a paper towel. Once cooled, add to the potatoes along with the pecorino and chopped Edam and mix well. I make a huge patty just to make sure all the ingredients are well compacted.
Remove desired portion size and form into a patty (or other desired shape). Make sure you press the mixture tightly so that it holds its shape.
Store patties in the fridge for up to two hours before cooking.
Heat 1 tsp. of olive oil (or cooking spray) in a medium frying pan on medium heat. Cook the patties for about 2-3 minutes on both sides or until browned. The patties will soften so be careful not to break them apart when flipping.
I made both patties and potato cake “fingers” so my son could munch on one on his own…which didn’t go so well because he just tried to shove the entire piece in his mouth! (Note to self: he’s too lazy to chew…or maybe he’s too gluttonous to take his time when he eats!!!!!)
Once cooked, set the patties aside until they cool slightly. The browned sides will harden slightly making it easier to cut into pieces. If your child is independent enough to eat on his/her own just hand the patties over and let them have free reign!!
“Did you know..?”
Pancetta is salt cured pork belly (aka. Italian bacon) seasoned with nutmeg, fennel, peppercorns, dried ground hot peppers and garlic, then dried or at least three months.