Potato Croquettes “Metsovone”Jul 6th, 2011 | By Peter Minakis | Category: Appetizer, Cheese, Corn Flour, Epirus, Featured, Frying, Greek, Meze, Ouzo, Pantry, Potato
Growing up in a Greek household here in Canada (immigrant family), I remember not always having the toys other kids had, didn’t wear the trendy clothes nor did we go to Disney for vacation but (the family) always were clothed, had plenty of toys, things to occupy my time with and we went on vacations to Greece! Disney….or Greece? Yeah….Greece is better.
Our family also always had plenty of food on the table and I never sensed that we were lacking in this area. Bountiful spreads at the dinner table, seconds (and thirds) could be had and there was always enough food if someone dropped-in unannounced (no, Greeks aren’t expected to call in before arriving). Even though food was never an issue in our home we also never were wasteful with food – eating leftovers or reinventing them into new dishes.
One such leftover that we’ve all experienced is mashed potatoes. One can reheat the leftovers and serve as a side to another dish but that can become an issue if there isn’t enough leftover mash to serve the whole family. Do only two people get mashed potatoes or does everyone get a miniscule portion (unlikely) or make some more (maybe).
The other way is to simply turn them into another dish and my solution is to turn mashed potatoes into croquettes – little cheezy potato balls. You can turn leftovers into croquettes or simply make a batch of mashed potatoes, allow them to cool and then form into balls and fry them. The potato croquettes are simply mashed potatoes spiked with some Greek oregano and they are mixed with a Smoked Metsovone cheese. This cheese comes from the town of Metsovo, located in Greece’s northerwestern province of Epirus.
There’s more to Greek cheese than just Feta and one of my favourites has to this Smoked Metsovone (from Metsovo). This town is a food haven with its long tradition of making sausages, wine, phyllo pies and its Metsovone cheese (smoked). I remember my mom bringing back from of the smoked variety from Greece years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. Metsovone appears in a long cylindrical shape with a thin wax rind and the smoked Metsovone has a visible brown hue on the outside and an intoxicating smoked aroma that most can’t resist.
Metsovone is made with 90% cow’s milk and the remaining 10% coming from goat’s milk, it’s aged for a minimum of 3 months and naturally smoked from natural local woods. Metsovone is sold in 1.5, 2.5 and 4.5kg sizes. Metsovone is nowhere to be found here in Toronto but some shops in the northeast US do sell it and even offer mail-order! I brought a sizeable piece of Metsovone back from my shopping spree at Ergon but it’s going fast. If you can’t find Metsovone a smoked Gouda will work just fine.
These potato croquettes are simply rolled into balls, dipped in eggwash then rolled in cornmeal (another traditional ingredient of Epirus and neighboring Thessaly that specialize in making a savory pie with cornmeal). The croquettes are shallow-fried in oil and served warm as part of a meze/appetizer array. These potato croquettes are a perfect excuse to pour some Ouzo, add ice or water and watch as the Ouzo turns milky white and beckons you to take a sip, tell stories or reminisce.
Potato Croquettes “Metsovone” (Πατατοκροκέτες “Μετσοβονε”
4 Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
4 cloves of garlic
4 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
1 cup of warm milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives (or scallions)
1 cup of grated Smoked Metsovone cheese (smoked Gouda works well)
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1 egg beaten with 2-3 Tbsp. of milk
1/2 cup corn meal
vegetable oil for frying
- Peel your potatoes and cut into smaller pieces and place in a pot with tap water and the whole cloves of garlic. Bring to a boil and season lightly with salt. Lower to a simmer and boil until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain well and return the potatoes (and garlic) back into the pot along with the butter and mash Gradually add milk until desired consistency achieved and then add the chives, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mashed potatoes to cool or place in the fridge to cool faster.
- When the mashed potatoes have cooled, add the grated smoked Metsovone and mix well. Form the mashed potatoes into balls and place on a platter. Mix your egg and milk in a small bowl and fill a concave plate with cornmeal. Coat your croquettes in the eggwash then roll then in thee cornmeal.
- Place a large skillet on your stove-top over medium-high heat and add about 1 inch of oil into it. When the oil gets to about 350F, add the croquettes and fry until golden (fry in batches if necessary). Transfer to a paper-lined plate to blot excess oil then transfer to a serving platter or smaller meze/appetizer plates and serve warm.*
* Fry until just golden – over-fry them an they may burst.
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© 2011, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.