This is comfort food, plain and simple. And anyway, when is the last time you made croquettes? Potato croquettes are found all over Italy (and other parts of Europe), but the addition of chilli flakes is a typical Sicilian touch. These flavourful specimens are a fry cry from the bland, greasy abominations that go in the name of ‘vegetarian croquettes’ in supermarket chiller cabinets.
Don’t use your best extra virgin olive oil for this recipe – use a combination of light olive oil (which is more suitable for frying) and a mild vegetable oil, such as sunflower. Use a good quality potato variety with floury (rather than waxy) texture.
Serve with salad for a simple lunch or supper; or with plain steamed spinach, buttered sweetcorn, and grilled tomatoes for a more substantial dinner. Makes 8 croquettes/ serves 2 (for main meal) to 4 (as appetiser).
1 lb/ 500g large potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 oz/ 100g parmesan, pecorino, or locatelli cheese, grated
1 oz/ 25g mozzarella cheese, grated
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
4 oz/ 100g plain white flour or semolina
5 oz/ 125g fresh or dried unflavoured breadcrumbs
Mixture of olive oil and sunflower oil for frying
1. Boil or steam the potatoes until very tender. Drain in a colander, and cool a little.
2. Mash the potatoes until they are creamy, making sure that there are no lumps. Cool thoroughly.
3. Beat one egg and add it to the mashed potato, along with parsley, garlic, the cheeses, chilli flakes, nutmeg and seasoning. Mix thoroughly with lightly greased palms, and divide the mixture into 8 pieces. Roll the mixture into cylindrical croquette shapes.
4. Sift the flour onto a large plate. Roll the croquettes in the flour so that each side is coated evenly.
5. Beat the second egg and pour it into another plate. In a third plate, spread the breadcrumbs. Lightly roll each flour-coated croquette in turn in the beaten egg, and then in the breadcrumbs.
6. Pour the oils in a frying pan so that they cover about ¼ inch of the base. Heat on medium heat until the oil is hot but not smoking. Fry the croquettes in batches of 2 or 3, turning them from time to time so that they are evenly browned on all sides.
7. Drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot.