Genius Mashed Potato and Scallion Cakes

Every week on, Senior Editor Kristen Miglore digs up Genius Recipes -- the ones that make us rethink cooking myths, get us talking, and change the way we cook.

Today: Leftover mashed potatoes get a new lease on life.

Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52

After Thanksgiving last week, you must have leftover mashed potatoes.

Because you know that running out is the worst thing that can happen on Thanksgiving, 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.

More: How to Make the Best Mashed Potatoes: Tips and Recipes

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? No. No, you cannot.

And, honestly, are you ready to make anything of the sort in the days 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 after Thanksgiving -- 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

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

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

1. Wash and trim the scallions, leaving about 2 inches of green stems. Cook in boiling water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and chop finely.

2. Place the scallions in a medium-sized bowl. Add the eggs, nutmeg, salt, pepper to taste, bread crumbs, and mashed potatoes. Mix well.

3. Heat the oils in a large skillet until hot but not smoking. (Searing the cakes quickly helps them stay together.) Shape the onion-potato mixture into patties, using 2 rounded tablespoons of the mixture for each patty. Sauté, about six at a time, until golden brown on both sides, 2 or 3 minutes per side. Keep warm while sautéing the remaining patties.

Save and print the full recipe on Food52

Bert Greene's Mashed Potato Cakes on Food52

Photos by James Ransom

This article originally appeared on Bert Greene's Potato Scallion Cakes (Fritterra)