Crispy Filled Potato Cakes

(makes 2-6” cakes; serves 4 as a main course or 12 as appetizers)

Crispy Filled Potato CakeThis recipe was inspired by a recipe in Brian Yarvin’s terrific cookbook A World of Dumplings. “Kroppkakor” are Swedish potato and bacon dumpling cooked in boiling water. I loved the sound of potatoes and bacon together, but I’m not a big fan of the European tradition of boiled dumplings – stolid, lumpen things that make me think of a dinner scene in an Ingmar Bergman movie.

My much cheerier take on the potato-bacon dumpling is a cheesed-up gnocchi dough disk stuffed with savory goodies and cooked on a hot griddle until it’s crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. Delicious as a main course with a salad on the side, smaller wedges of the cake are portable enough to serve as hors d’oeuvre.

Below are recipes for two fillings – a bacon-onion-red pepper version as well as a vegetarian cabbage-apple filling – but this dish would lend itself to all sorts of variations, especially if you happen to have some leftovers you need to use up.

Potato Dough

  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese

Combine all the ingredients except the cheese very well until you have a smooth dough; a food processor works well for this. Stir in the cheese. The dough will be quite sticky and is easier to work with if you lightly wet your hands.

Put a heavy skillet or griddle on to heat. Well-seasoned cast iron may not need any additional oil or butter.

Meanwhile, divide the dough into quarters. Working on lightly floured parchment or wax paper, pat 2 of the quarters into rounds approximately 6” in diameter. Top one of the rounds with half of the filling mixture. Carefully flip the other round onto the filled round and gently seal the edges of the rounds.

If needed, put a tsp. or two of butter or oil into the hot skillet and spread it evenly over the pan. Now, using the parchment paper to lift it, carefully flip the potato cake into the pan. While the first cake is cooking, proceed as above to assemble the other potato cake.

Cook the cake for 5 or more minutes on each side, until it is golden brown on both sides and the dough has puffed slightly and no longer looks raw (it will remain very moist). Serve immediately or hold in a warm oven until the other cake is finished cooking.

Bacon-Onion-Red Pepper Filling

(enough to fill two cakes)

  • ½ lb. bacon (preferably thickly sliced), chopped into ¼” piecesBacon Red Pepper Filling for Potato Cake
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • ½ cup seeded and chopped red peppers (previously roasted peppers work well, as do canned pimentos)
  • ½ tsp. minced fresh rosemary (optional – you can use whatever herbs you like)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Saute the bacon in a heavy skillet. When it gives up some of its fat, add the onion and red pepper, rosemary and black pepper. Cook until the bacon is browned and the onions are soft and lightly caramelized. Lift from the pan using a slotted spoon so the fat remains behind; set aside to cool a bit. You may use a small amount of the bacon fat for cooking the potato cakes, if you like.

Cabbage-Apple Filling 

(enough to fill two cakes)

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage (you can use red, green or savoy)
  • 1 cup chopped apple (about one large apple – use something that will remain firm when
  • cooked, like Granny Smith or Braeburn)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 1 tablespoons minced fresh dill (optional, but it’s really good!)
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. heavy cream (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grated Swiss cheese (optional)

Heat a heavy skillet. When it’s hot, melt the butter in it and then add the cabbage, apple and onion. Saute until the vegetables are translucent and beginning to get a little golden. Add the dill and the cider vinegar. If you like, add the heavy cream. Cook a minute or two then add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool. If desired, you may sprinkle additional cheese over the filling, ½ cup per cake, before putting the second dough disk on top of it and sealing.