I'm ten years old and standing by the stove, while mom takes a spoon and drops some of the batter into the hot oil. After a few minutes, the sizzling sound and the intense aroma of fried potato pancakes makes me ever more impatient for mom to pluck the crispy golden treats out of the hot fat and plunk them onto the paper towel-lined plate nearby. I nibble on the crunchy exterior and burn my tongue, but that doesn't stop me from blowing on the fried treat and biting into it again, releasing another gush of steam as I pop the spongy, pillowy interior into my mouth.
They're Italian potato pancakes, they're deliciously addictive, and they're part of my childhood food memories. My mother was from Northern Italy, and arrived in the U.S. as a young war bride with few recipes in her repertoire. As a result, so much of the cooking I grew up with was Southern Italian food, reflective of the Calabrian household my mother married into. These potato pancakes are just one example.
If you've got any leftover mashed potatoes still lying around from Thanksgiving, put them to work in this recipe. Maybe they'll even become part of your family's food memories too.
Italian Potato Pancakes
printable recipe here
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
1 cup flour
3 t. baking powder
a few sprigs of parsley, minced
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
salt, pepper to taste
oil for deep frying
Mix all ingredients (except oil) in a bowl with a wooden spoon. The batter should be stiff, liked mashed potatoes. Heat the oil until very hot, and drop a spoonful of the batter into the oil. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once.