Mashed Potato Cakes with Broccoli and Cheese

January 21, 2014

Merrill's daughter Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray.

Today: Merrill makes mashed potato cakes, with a twist.

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I may have mentioned that Clara isn't a big fan of potatoes, other than the French fried variety. She especially dislikes mashed potatoes, which are doubly offensive because of the mush factor. This is a problem in our house for two reasons. First, both my husband and I could easily eat our own body weight in mashed potatoes. And second, Jonathan has sworn off all deep fried potatoes for 2014. So unless we could find a compromise, it was looking to be a potato-less year ahead.

More: Roasted potatoes that are as good as french fries, if not better.

Enter the mashed potato cake, a genius combination of mashed and fried. Not to mention the best way, second only to shepherd's pie, to breathe new life into leftover mashed potatoes. I figured if I tucked the potatoes into a crunchy panko crust and then pan-fried them, my spud-snubbing daughter might give them a shot. Just to hedge my bets, I chucked in two more things she loves: cheese, and some chopped broccoli cooked in the style of Roy Finamore (i.e., for a long time, with lots of garlic and olive oil).

Two-year-old pickiness, conquered. Now I can make a vat of mashed potatoes for Jonathan and me without guilt, knowing that the reserves mean future meals for Clara. I've also discovered that these potato cakes aren't half bad with a poached egg on top.

It's going to be a good year.

Mashed Potato Cakes with Broccoli and Cheese

Serves 6 to 8

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups panko crumbs
Poached eggs for serving (optional)

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

Photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sietske van Schaik
    Sietske van Schaik
  • Kayla Freudenberg
    Kayla Freudenberg
  • solmstea
  • softenbrownsugar
  • Christina @ Christina's Cucina
    Christina @ Christina's Cucina
I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


Sietske V. January 26, 2014
My kids are addicted to oven 'fried' potatoes. Wedges, slices, sticks.. it's all good. I may have to try these, because mashed potatoes are a no-go. Lucky for me, I am not a huge potato masher.. unless we're talking stamppot.
Kayla F. January 22, 2014
These sounds fantastic, I can't wait to try them. DO you have any ideas for a salad to go with them? I would like to add some acidity and make a complete meal.
solmstea January 22, 2014
These look fantastic. They're the kind of thing that I'd like to make ahead so I could just fry a couple up when I've had a long day at work. Do you think they'd freeze up well (unfried)?
Merrill S. January 22, 2014
I haven't tried freezing them, and I know some people object to the texture of frozen and then thawed mashed potatoes. If you try it, let me know how they turn out!
softenbrownsugar January 22, 2014
Your photography of Clara is wonderful. That and the fact that she is so photogenic with or without food in her hand. At any rate, I always love receiving a new recipe for mashed potatoes besides Shepherd's Pie (although I do love Shepherd's Pie!). :) Thank goodness for Pinterest so I can save this to make soon!
Christina @. January 22, 2014
Clara is growing so quickly! She's so lucky to have such wonderfully tasty and healthy food to eat. These sound delish!
cookinginvictoria January 21, 2014
Merrill, Clara is beautiful, and I love reading about all of the many dishes that you are cooking for her and that she is eating. These broccoli potato cakes look delicious, and I look forward to trying them. However, just wanted to say that my eight year old daughter was exactly the same as Clara at that age. For years, she disliked mashed potatoes with a vengeance, and the only potato that she would eat was a french fry. You are right -- it is totally the mush factor at work here. Will Clara eat roasted potatoes? Those were a bit hit in our house and helped bridge the gap since they are a combination of crunchy and creamy. Scalloped potatoes are also now a big hit -- who can resist potatoes and cheese and cream?
Merrill S. January 21, 2014
Thank you so much! I've heard that it's actually pretty common for little kids to dislike mashed potatoes. She does enjoy a very crisp roast potato from time to time, but I haven't tried scalloped. Next on the list!
ATG117 January 21, 2014
Is it weird if I say that I think navy is Clara's color ;) I'd still low a post on food philosophies web it comes to feeding kids. It seems like you and Amanda may have slightly different approaches, and I generally think it's a fascinating topic today.
Not only do I think this recipe sounds delicious and gives me something to make with the broccoli currently hanging out in my fridge, but I just love you writing style!
Merrill S. January 21, 2014
Thank you so much! Hope you enjoy these...
Mary L. January 21, 2014
These sound delicious, but I am not a fan of panko crumbs. Is there a substitute crumb I can use?
Merrill S. January 21, 2014
Sure, you can just use regular dried breadcrumbs if you like -- let me know how they turn out!
pamelalee January 21, 2014
Instead of panko crumbs, how about grated parmesan?