This is an absolutely delicious Italian-style potato cake -- Gattò di Patate -- that will impress your guests.
It is important to have either a ricer or food mill to make the potato purée in this recipe, as well as an 8-inch, spring-form, cake pan.
2 very large (or 3 or 4 smaller) Idaho or Russet Potatoes (approximately 1½ pounds)
3 cloves of Garlic, minced
⅓ cup of Heavy Cream
½ cup of Sour Cream
½ teaspoon of Salt (plus about 1-2 tablespoons of salt for the water for the potatoes)
½ teaspoon of Black Pepper, freshly ground
½ teaspoon of Nutmeg, freshly grated
½ cup of Butter
¾ cup of Parmesan Cheese, grated
½ cup Italian Cheese Blend, shredded (Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano cheeses or other blends of Italian cheeses)
For the Filling:
2 tablespoons of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 White Onion, finely chopped
1 cup of Pancetta Chunks (or Prosciutto chunks, or other cured meat such as an Italian hard salami, chopped into ¼-inch chunks)
For Lining the Pan and the Topping:
3 tablespoons of Butter (or 2 tablespoons if you use a butter cooking spray to coat the inside of the spring-form pan)
⅓ cup of Breadcrumbs (or you can crush your favorite herb crackers)
Leave the skin on the potatoes. Clean/scrub the potatoes well. In a large stock pot, heat plenty of water to a boil and add salt. Use enough water to cover all the potatoes and still have a lot of extra water on top. Boil the potatoes in their skins until they are fully tender -- approximately 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the potatoes. Once they are tender, remove the potatoes from the water and let them cool. While the potatoes are cooling, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the stock pot that was previously used, and add the minced garlic. Cook the garlic until it is translucent. Add the rest of the butter to the stock pot along with the cream. Once the potatoes have cooled enough to touch, remove the skins from them, and then use a ricer or food mill to make a purée. Add the purée back into the stock pot that was used previously, along with the garlic, butter, and cream mixture. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they are slightly beaten. Add the beaten eggs, the sour cream, the Parmesan cheese, the Italian cheese blend, the salt, the pepper, and the nutmeg to the pot, and mix it all very thoroughly. Do not heat it but allow the heat of the pot to keep this mixture warm.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a separate sauté pan, add the olive oil for the filling and the pancetta (or the other cured meat), and sauté until the meat pieces are crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta (or the other cured meat) from the sauté pan, and then add the onions to the pan. Cook it until the onions are translucent. Add the meat back into the pan and cook them together for a few more minutes. Drain the onion and meat mixture on a paper towel to remove the oil and set them aside.
Use 1 tablespoon of butter or spray a butter cooking spray to coat an 8-inch spring-form, cake pan. Use about 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs or crushed crackers (in this recipe, I used some of my favorite herb crackers, which we crushed in our food processor) to coat the inside of the spring form pan and set it aside.
Mix the potato mixture again, and then pour half of the potato mixture into the spring-form pan and smooth out the top of the mixture. Layer on the filling mixture, and then add the remaining potato mixture and smooth out the top. Dot the top of the potato mixture with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and spread the remaining breadcrumbs or crushed crackers over the top.
Note: This is what the cake should look like before it is placed in the oven.
Bake it in the oven for about 30-45 minutes until the potato cake is hot all the way through and the breadcrumbs are nicely browned on top. (Insert a knife in it and check the temperature of the center.)
Once it is done, cool this delicious potato cake for about 15 minutes before you unmold and serve it. This is sure to impress your guests!
Note: This is a photo of the Potato Cake when it has been baked, cooled, and the spring-form pan has been removed.