Bert Greene's Potato Scallion Cakes (Fritterra)

November 27, 2013

Leftover mashed potatoes get a new lease on life—and you get a morning-after Thanksgiving breakfast you'll actually want to cook (and eat).

Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52

Come Friday, you will have leftover mashed potatoes

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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.

Bert Green's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52

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.

Bert Greene

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."

Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52

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.

Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52

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.

Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52  Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52

Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52

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.

Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52    Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52

Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52    Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52 

Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52

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.

Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52

Bert Greene's Potato Scallion Cakes (Fritterra)

Adapted slightly from Greene on Greens (Workman Publishing Company, 1984)

Serves 4

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

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52

Photos by James Ransom

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I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Terry May 27, 2018
This is great...I needed just a simple breakfast side to use up leftover mashed potatoes, not a recipe for full-on potato pancakes which is what every other website suggests. I left out the onions as the husband doesn't care for them, but I'll be keeping this recipe in mind for future leftovers.
Jane A. November 26, 2017
These were really good. I used shallot because I didn't have green onions and used stuffing instead of bread crumbs. I can see that the green onions would have taken these to another level but they were still really good. Doubles easily.
Sara B. November 27, 2016
Bert Greene was terrific! I have three of his cookbooks and I use them. I met him and got to know him at an IACP meeting and was a huge fan until his death.
girlwithaknife November 26, 2016
Nom nom nom. I used half the green onions because that was all I had. Next time definitely would use the full amount. I used stuffing in place of the bread crumbs. Hubby was skeptical but had some with sriracha and liked it :)
Ashley March 7, 2015
Skipped the blanching step since I was short on time and didn't miss it. And while it seems like a crazy amount of scallions, that's really the trick; use more than you think is wise and get really flavorful pancakes. A great way to use up odds and ends, and transform one thing into something else, especially if leftovers have limited appeal after the first time or two you have them.
lilroseglow December 7, 2013
I grew up on these too, and we almost liked them better than the mashed potatoes! Mom always used grated onion instead of scallions. Now I make them all the time for my kids.
Yazoolulu December 8, 2013
Thanks for the grated onion tip!. I used a large sweet onion and some chives from my garden for color - delish!
daisybrain December 2, 2013
While these sound yummy I'm trying to figure out how 1.5 cups of mashed spuds, 12 scallions and 2 eggs equals 4 servings. Sounds like a tease to me. Small servings just make me cranky.
Beautiful, M. December 1, 2013
Looks great-- and I think adding some fresh or frozen corn would be a nice addition too.
chlychef1 November 28, 2013
As long as you are using "leftovers" from Thanksgiving.....why not use leftover stuffing in place of the breadcrumbs
Kristen M. November 28, 2013
Love that idea.
beth Y. November 28, 2013
Gosh these look amazing! Like a luxury hash brown! Yum!
William M. November 27, 2013
I make them for breakfast and put whatever leftover meat from the day before in them too - chopped up grilled lamb and chopped slow roasted pork butt are family favorites. You can also put a little sour cream in the mix if the potatoes are too dry.
Leona B. November 27, 2013
Grow up eating this. Mom fixed all the time. She just used regular onions.
Carol November 27, 2013
Grew up eating potato cakes with fried eggs, but never like these. Plan to make some mashed potatoes just so I can have this for Friday breakfast! And agreed that Bert Greene was an unsung genius. Love his books
westsloper November 27, 2013
Here's my take: mix leftover potatoes with shredded cheddar, spices of your choice, a little milk to bind. Form cakes; dip in beaten egg, then panko. Place on lightly oiled cookie sheet, spray with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees or so for about 20 minutes per side (or until nicely browned). Always gets raves...
Nanette November 27, 2013
We're having real latkes tomorrow, so this deliciousness will have to wait a few days. You've also reminded me to fritter my leftover quinoa with green onions, garlic, and parmesan. Absolutely amazing with sunnysides! (Oh, and more eggs to hold the quinoa patties together!) YUMMY!
Katie W. November 27, 2013
I love that you found this in an old Bert Greene Cookbook! He is a name more people should know.