Come Friday, you will have leftover mashed potatoes.
Because you know that running out is the worst thing that can happen on Thursday, second only to dropping the pie on the floor.
But rewarmed mashed potatoes are never destined to be terribly good -- they turn floury and dry overnight, and any attempts to revive them only succeed in making them more sticky.
There are lots of places to secretly stick leftover mashed potatoes, but the question of seasoning complicates matters. Can you reuse that dreamy garlic buttermilk mash in your cinnamon rolls or chocolate cake or Spudnuts? No. No, you cannot.
And, honestly, are you ready to make anything of the sort the day after a Thanksgiving feast? (If you are: high-five for you.) Casual bread bakers might work their clumpy potato remnants into flatbreads or country loaves; I bet they've even saved the potato cooking water too. Good for them!
But for the rest of us, I wanted something simpler, something we'd actually be ready to cook on Thanksgiving, Day 2 -- something that could work with any family's mashed potato dregs, and make them feel new. I wanted something that would go really well with fried eggs.
I found it in Bert Greene's classic Greene on Greens: fritterra -- a leftover mashed potato cake like you've probably seen before, but with a few smart upgrades. (As a Thanksgivukkah bonus: these totally count as latkes.) "It was a gift from a taxi driver," Greene says in the recipe's headnote, "who related it in pieces -- each time we stopped for a light."
Upgrade 1. He uses a lot of scallions, but blanches them first -- a (quick) extra step that packs in fresh greenness without the bite and regret of raw alliums.
Pro tip: Be sure to chop the blanched scallions finely, or the cakes will break along scallion fault lines as they fry.
Upgrade 2. To bind the cakes, Greene uses a combination of egg and bread crumbs instead of flour, the latter of which can be a slippery slope and make cakes with the pasty chew of a pencil eraser. Breadcrumbs are much more forgiving.
Don't be shy with the heat. Searing them quickly helps hold the loose batter together -- this will allow you to not keep adding breadcrumbs, which after a certain point, you will regret.
If you're the kind of family that buzzes around cooking together all day on Thursday, here's your chance to do a little bit more -- but unlike Thursday, where you'll spend all day smelling turkey and being asked to wait, these cakes come together in minutes. You won't be able to eat them fast enough.
Adapted slightly from Greene on Greens (Workman Publishing Company, 1984)
12 whole scallions
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 1/2 cup cold, leftover mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Photos by James Ransom
Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]