potato possibilities

Potato Balls

This recipe was inspired by the special exhibition Your Country Calls! Posters of the First World War at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. The exhibit will be on display through November 3rd. I found it a bit eerie but utterly fascinating. It’s definitely a must see.

To avoid rationing during WWI, the government needed American civilians to cut back on foods – especially sugar, meat and butter – to send abroad to feed American and Allied troops. The newly created Food and Fuel Control Act sponsored an educational campaign which included pamphlets on the rules of substitution and creative ways to use those foods that were more readily available. Among them was one for potatoes. “Potato Possibilities” called the potato “a good food all the time – but especially good war time food for Americans because the use of the potato means the saving of other foods which can be more easily shipped to our own troops and our allies.” Potato Balls were among the recipes listed.

2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
salt and pepper
12 ounces Gruyere, cut into 1/3-inch dice
2 cups plain dry breadcrumbs
5 eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
vegetable oil, for frying

In a saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water. Bring to a boil, salt generously and simmer over medium heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, let cool and mash into a large bowl. Add the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Shape the mixture into small oval or round croquettes and transfer to a plate. Cover and refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes.

Spread the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, beat the eggs with the mustard and some salt and pepper. Dredge the croquettes in the breadcrumbs, tapping off the excess. Dip in the beaten egg mixture to coat, then dredge again in the breadcrumbs, pressing lightly to help the crumbs adhere.

In a large saucepan, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil to 350° F. Working in batches, fry the croquettes, turning, until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6

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