Cooking on the Cheap: Tatercakes


December 14, 2009 by skwishface

I’m sure this recipe is nothing new to the culinary world. I’ll bet there’s even a fancy name for it. At the time that I was madly giggling my way through inventing this recipe, I was not aware that generations have gone before me on this one.

See, we humans just love our potatoes. We’ll find any and every way possible to cook them. Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew. Or, as in this case, boil ’em, mash ’em, form ’em into little patties and pan-fry ’em.

Best. Side dish. Ever.

Also, a couple of them make a pretty satisfying lunch the next day. Not that I would ever recommend eating just a pile of cheesy, buttery, creamy taters for a meal. (do it)

Tatercakes (prep time: 5 minutes, cook time: 20-30 minutes, cost: negligible)
4 large russet potatoes
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (depends on how cheesy you wants it)
1/2 cup milk (whole is best, 2% if you must, never ever 1% … heavy cream if you have it)
1/4 cup butter

Let us begin with the noble potato.

Pre-washing required. No joke. Taters are dirty. Literally.

Wash your taters, then chop them into 1/2-inch chunks. Peel them if you must, but I prefer to leave the skins on. The only real nutritional value in a potato lives in the skin. Leaving the skins in the mix helps me to balance my dietary karma. Also, they give a nice texture. But hey, unless you’re cooking these for me (which would be awfully nice of you) I don’t get a say in your skins-or-no-skins debate. Do what you will!

Once they’re hacked up, drop the pieces into a big pot of very salty boiling water. Neglect to photograph any of this.

Boil ’em until you can easily slide a fork into the center of a big chunk, and the skins are starting to fall off. Then drain off the water and drop your steaming hot taters into a mixing bowl for the mashing.

I cheated and used my stand mixer. My carpal tunnel hands feel that I'm justified.

Do whatever you need to do to make the mashing happen. Hand mixer, stand mixer, potato masher, fork, big rock, whatevs. The taters don’t care, they’ll mash regardless. Just don’t fiddle with them too long, lest they get all gummy on you.

I recommend adding your butter and milk (or cream) at this stage. The liquids will help with the mashing process, keeps things smooth. Personally, I prefer a few chunks in my mashed taters, so I didn’t go quite as smooth-n-creamy as some folks might.

Once you’ve got a big bowl of mashed potatoes, add the cheese.

Cheese! Glorious cheese!

By the by, while I was cooking these taters Mother Nature conspired to rob me of my natural lighting by rolling in some pretty ominous stormclouds. This seems to happen alot when I’m cooking. Perhaps the two are related? Anyway, I apologize for the glaring yellowness of the flourescent-lighting pictures. I did the best I could to fix them.

We move on! Stir the cheese into the taters. Given the thickness of the taters, probably your stirring is more like “folding”. Semantics! Just make sure the cheese is evenly distributed.

By now, the mixture should be just cool enough to handle. Which is good, because you’ll be scooping up handfuls of the mixture and forming it into patties. You will not be taking pictures of this process, because you do not have a clean hand available and you love your camera too much to smear it with taters.

Once you’ve got your tater patties, heat up some oil or butter (or both!) in a non-stick pan. Just a thin layer to coat the pan so the notoriously sticky taters don’t .. ya know .. stick. When the oil is hot, carefully place your tater patties and let them sizzle.

Give them plenty of room, lest they join forces and unite against you.

Fry ’em up on the first side for maybe 2-3 minutes. Just long enough to get them golden brown and heavenly. Then flip ’em!

This right here is why scratch-n-sniff internet needs to be invented. ... And I just thought of a thousand reasons why it SHOULDN'T.

This four-potato recipe yields maybe 10 tatercakes. Which fed my family with leftovers to spare.

With a dollop of sour cream, alongside chicken and broccoli!

Lunch the next day! Don't you judge me.

Hot, creamy, cheesy, mashed taters in a perfect portion size with a crispy pan-fried exterior. This is everything that is good about potatoes all in one spot.

Next time I make these, I’m adding bacon. JUST TRY AND STOP ME!


3 thoughts on “Cooking on the Cheap: Tatercakes

  1. shallon says:

    im trying these for dinner tonight. you make them sound so good. and yes bacon has to be in there.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. rebecca says:

    Oh man, if I made these my husband would literally DIE of joy. He talks about these potato cake sandwiches…that sound a lot like potato pancakes on buns. Anyway, these sound far more tasty than the very basic latke recipes I have tried. And the bacon idea makes me think I might be able to handle them as a sandwich. I would need lots and lots of bacon though.

  3. rebecca says:

    I forgot to mention that the potato cake sandwiches are some sort of Australian street vendor type food. So its a complete mystery to boring old American me.

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