Kitchen wombling: chorizo potato cakes
I haven’t been doing a lot of cooking since my Inner Womble made beer bread a few weeks ago, and in fact the remaining breadcrumbs are still in the freezer. But now I am freelance and I have a bit more time and energy to experiment, and am keen to Womble my way through the stack of ingredients that’s lurking around in the kitchen.
Ryan and I have been away for a few days to Devon, and our trips normally involve buying things for breakfast from a local supermarket. Ryan picked up a packet of 4 plain scones, and ate 2 of them. By the time we got home they were a little on the stale side. So I decided to see whether the Inner Womble could turn them into something tasty for dinner.
In the end I settled on using them for crumbs. My original idea was to make fish cakes, but looking in the fridge I found some cooking chorizo – I opened the packet before we went away, so that needed using up. Some potatoes, a handful of frozen sweetcorn and a pinch of Italian herbs from a packet in the freezer (close to its use-by date, I notice), and I was ready to roll.
Potato-based cakes (or burgers, if you prefer) are the kind of thing that come together out of whatever’s on hand, and are flexible enough not to need a recipe. But if you like following them then I have written down this one properly for you 🙂 Chorizo and potato burgers
For those of you happy to Womble away, peel and boil a suitable number of potatoes for the number of people you’re feeding, then mash. You need a reasonably smooth mash consistency, not dry and crumbly, but not too runny either.
Cooking chorizo needs cooking, so I diced mine and fried it. You may have ready-eat-chorizo, or cooked sausages on hand, which would just need dicing. Cut it up as finely as you can manage/ be bothered – larger lumps are OK but they’re harder to mix nicely into the burgers.
I used sweetcorn because that’s what we had, and I defrosted a handful for each of us. You could use frozen peas, or leftover cooked vegetables (which may need chopping into smaller portions). If all else fails you could dice and fry up an onion.
When the mash is cool enough to handle, mix in the rest of the ingredients and season. Use your hands to form it into burger shapes – size isn’t that important, so divide according to how many people you’re feeding. It’s easier to cook them together if they’re all roughly the same size.
If you have the time, it’s a good idea to chill the burgers in the fridge for half an hour or so (covered in clingfilm, or in a sealed container), which makes the mash more solid.
Meanwhile, make the breadcrumbs. You’ll need about a cup per person. My scones crumbled up nicely by hand (and made far too many crumbs – the leftovers went into the freezer), but for bread you’ll need to use the blender as they have to be reasonably fine.
Mash is quite sticky, so when you’re ready to cook the burgers you can just roll them in the breadcrumbs and quite a lot will stick. If you’ve got a few minutes it’s generally worth coating the burgers in flour, and then dunking them in milk or beaten egg, and then rolling them in the breadcrumbs, which encourages a good stick (and makes everything in the kitchen dirty!).
Then it’s a simple case of shallow frying your burgers until they’re hot through (the ingredients are all pre-cooked, so no worries there) and nicely browned all over. When it comes time to flip them over you’ll find out whether your mash is going to hold together! If it doesn’t then squidge the whole thing into one big potato layer and call it posh bubble & squeak 🙂
A food magazine would tell you to serve your burgers with a nice green salad. We had ours with a massive portion of boiled (purple) carrots, since they needed eating before the next veg box arrives!
They were very tasty and got the thumbs up, so potato cakes have been added to the list of ways to make a good dinner from whatever’s handy.
Since I started kitchen Wombling, I have been keeping all our leftover bread and storing it in the freezer as breadcrumbs (apparently 24 million slices are wasted in the UK every day, so now I need to make the effort and use them in something! Potato cakes are a good start (and make lovely fish cakes, using tinned tuna). I can also do sage and onion stuffing, and a wartime crumble mix… and it occurred to me that a treacle tart would use up a lot of breadcrumbs.
WRAP were talking about this in September, and a Guardian article has links to recipes for tomato gratin, roast-herb fillet of fish, panzanella, ‘le pudding’, and garlic and bread soup. Or you can make fresh croutons, and one enterprising skint dad turned his crumbs into a base for a lemon cheesecake. How do you #useyourloaf?