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Author Notes: During the holidays I like to make fried potato croquettes. I like the texture because they're similar in consistency to mashed potatoes, and they have a nice crunchy exterior. Potato croquettes can be time consuming to make, and most people don't prefer to deep fry in their homes. This recipe uses the same techniques, ingredients, but it's much easier to make.
For this dish I like to load the mixture up with tons of Parmigiano-Regianno cheese, fresh mozzarella, and an ample amount of cubed Pancetta. Garlic and parsley enter the mix as well. To gain the crunch that you would get with a fried potato croquette, I like to top the casserole with fine breadcrumbs.
This is great to serve in the fall and winter. Once it cooks the cheeses melt together, and the top becomes crusty and golden. Lastly, I will admit that I had to go even further by greasing the casserole dish with a sparing amount of Duck fat. I don't think I have any more words to describe how cheesy, gooey, and satisfying this can be as a main or a side. Usually a roast will take center stage, but for me, this is pure comfort food. —James Durazzo
- 5-6 Idaho Potatoes (peeled and cut into cubes)
- 1 cup Fresh Mozzarella (cut into small cubes)
- 1/2 cup Grated Parmigiano-Regianno Cheese (Extra for topping)
- 1/3 cup Pancetta (cut into small cubes)
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Tablespoons of Fresh chopped Parsley
- 2 Tablespoons unseasoned fine breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon Unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon Duck fat or unsalted butter
- 2 Cloves of garlic (minced finely)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- In a large pot add potatoes, water, and a few pinches of salt. Bring to a boil, and simmer until tender. Drain potatoes, and add back to the pot. Place over low heat until excess water cooks off.
- Add salt and pepper and begin to mash them up until smooth. It's ok to have lumps, but if you choose to have them smooth, just use a ricer.
- Add in the remaining ingredients (two cheeses, pancetta, eggs, garlic, parsley, and butter. Combine everything together. Taste for seasoning.
- Add the duck fat to an oven proof casserole dish, then sprinkle on some breadcrumbs to line the bottom of the dish. Shake to distribute.
- Add the mixture to the casserole dish, and spread out evenly, use a fork to fluff up the mixture, make nice peaks as if you have a meringue. This will give you crispy edges and texture.
- Sprinkle the top with a mixture of breadcrumbs and Parmigiano-Regianno Cheese, as much as you prefer. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil on top. I like to add some Maldon's flake salt and extra black pepper as well.
- Place into a preheated 400 degree oven and let cook for 10-15 minutes, then turn on your broiler to low, and allow the top of the casserole to brown and become golden. Remove from oven, let stand for 5-10 minutes.