Mashed Potato Cake
Use this technique of coating a nonstick pan with butter and grated aged cheese whenever you want to achieve a chewy crust on a savory skillet cake made with risotto, pasta, or a stiff vegetable puree.
Serve wedges of this crusty savory cake, known as a galette in France, as a side dish with any number of meat, poultry, or seafood preparations. To make a crust without using a great deal of butter, I sprinkle a hot, lightly buttered nonstick pan with a little grated aged cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, which melts and forms a crust on the outside of the potato cake. Though used sparingly, the cheese contributes a mild flavor that enhances the potato without being a strong presence.
Cooking Methodbaking, pan-frying
Total Timeunder 1 hour
Make Ahead RecipeYes
Recipe Courseside dish, starch, tapas/small plates
Dietary Considerationside dish, starch, tapas/small plates
Taste and Texturebuttery, cheesy, creamy, savory
Type of DishThanksgiving Leftovers
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- 3 cups stiff leftover mashed potatoes (such as Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- A few gratings of fresh nutmeg
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated aged cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, Manchego, Dry (aged) Jack, or aged Gouda (about 1¼ ounces)
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In an ovenproof nonstick 10-inch skillet, melt 1 teaspoon of the butter over low heat. Add the garlic, cover, and cook gently until the garlic is translucent, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Discard the garlic.
Put the potatoes in a medium bowl and beat in the nutmeg, flour, and salt and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the cheese into the skillet. Gently spoon the potato mixture into the pan, taking care not to dislodge the cheese, and press down with the back of a spoon to form a flat cake. Sprinkle the top of the cake evenly with the remaining 3 tablespoons cheese and a few grinds of pepper. Dot with the remaining 1 teaspoon butter.
Place the pan over moderate heat for a couple of minutes, until the skillet is very hot and you can hear the cake sizzle. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden.
Slide a blunt knife carefully between the potato cake and the sides of the pan and lift the cake slightly to see if the bottom is brown and crisp. If not, place the skillet on a burner over moderate heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve the cake directly from the pan, or turn it out onto a platter: Place a plate over the pan and, holding the two together, invert them so that the cake falls out onto the plate.
Up to 4 hours ahead, press the mashed potatoes into the prepared skillet, top with the cheese, and dot with butter. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the top is golden.
2001 Sally Schneider