Growing up I was never really a huge fan of mashed potatoes. I would push them around on my plate or cover them with a roll, hoping that no one would discover that I wasn’t eating them. There was only potato dish that would really make me smile and that was panzerotti. This was something that I could eat all day long-creamy potatoes whipped with eggs and parmigiano, then stuffed with bits of mozzarella cheese, dipped in egg and bread crumbs and fried to a golden brown. We ate these as a side dish with dinner but as a grown up I discovered that when you make these bite size, they are the perfect appetizer. I mean who doesn’t like a fried tidbit with melted cheese in the middle?
This is a dish that you could make with leftover mashed potatoes, but I will include a recipe from The Antipasto Table by Michele Scicolone. I love this cookbook and have pretty much cooked my way through it.
2 pounds boiling potatoes (about 5 large), peeled
3 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley (my addition to the recipe)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces mozzarella, cut into 1/4″ cubes
1-1/2 cups fine dry bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan with cold water to cover. Add salt to taste, cover and bring to a boil. cook over medium heat until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes and mash or press them through a ricer or food mill.
Stir in the egg yolk, chopped parsley and the parmigiano cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Using about 3 tablespoons of the mixture, shape into a 2-1/2″ x 1″ log; repeat with the remaining potatoes. Poke a few pieces of the mozzarella into each log, smoothing the potato mixture around it to completely enclose the cheese.
In a shallow dish, beat the egg whites until frothy. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. Dip the potato logs into the egg whites, then roll them in the crumbs and pat them so that the crumbs adhere. Place on a rack or baking sheet and let dry for 15 to 30 minutes. You could make these earlier in the day, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Pour about 1/2″ of oil into a deep, heavy pan. Heat over medium heat. It’s important to heat your oil to about 350 degrees. Use a thermometer if at all possible, to see how hot it really is. Fry the panzerotti a few at a time until golden brown, turning them over once. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. You can also keep them at room temperature and re-heat in a 350 degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. Yield: 2 dozen croquettes
P.S. I “borrowed” this photo, but it is a good representation of what mine looked like!