Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Broccoli Potato Bites

A few days ago, my very good friend Jessie and I were talking about new foods that her son was eating. One of those foods were Dr. Praeger's Broccoli Littles. Essentially, they sounded like mashed potato patties (or croquettes if you're feeling fancy) with chopped broccoli, and at $3.99 for a 12oz box of nuggets... I told her we should try to make some. So last week, we got together and made these! There's only two things I would change for the next batch, first I wouldn't add any stock to the mashed potatoes when mashing. Second, I would season up the potatoes a little bit more. They needed some salt. I didn't want to add any initially, especially because this particular batch was for Jessie's sweet son, and kids don't need tons of salt (literally, it's like 1/4tsp per day). But adding a little to the potatoes wouldn't end up being very much spread out over the entire batch. The instructions and recipe at the end reflect the changes that should be made. So with that being said, here's what we did:
First we scrubbed some red potatoes, then put them in a pot and covered them with COLD water. You gotta start with cold water when cooking potatoes, otherwise the outside of the potato will cook faster than the inside... and well, you end up with mushy on the outside, raw on the inside potatoes. And who wants to eat those? Yeah, me neither. Ok, then put the pot on the stove over medium-high heat, and let those little guys simmer for 20 or so minutes. You'll know they're done when you can insert a fork or knife into them and it slides in without resistance. You can use any potato here, but we had red potatoes on hand, and decided that since the skin is so thin, they wouldn't require any peeling. If you used a russet potato, go ahead and give the little guy a peel.
While your potatoes are cooking, chop up half a medium onion and a few cloves of garlic. Add those to a small pan of melted butter (or oil), at medium heat. We're building some flavor components for our Broccoli Potato Bites (or croquettes if you're still feelin fancy). We're just gonna saute these for a few minutes, just till they're translucent. I seasoned them with a small pinch of salt. You could also add pepper here, but since these were for Jessie's almost-three-year-old, I opted out of pepper.
 Our next step is all about the broccoli. You can use fresh or frozen, we used the latter because it's what we had on hand. If you were going to use fresh broccoli, you'd want to blanch, boil or steam it for a few minutes to cook and soften it a little. We steamed our broccoli in a little bit of water in the microwave. Then you're going to get to choppin'! Jessie meticulously chopped up those florets, but I imagine you could pulse them in a food processor or Magic Bullet if you didn't feel like choppin'.
At this point, our potatoes are cooked, the garlic and onions are translucent, and our broccoli is cooked and chopped. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, and spray a sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray. Now, add the onions and garlic to a large mixing bowl, along with the cooked potatoes. With the back of a spoon, I want you to smoosh (very technical cooking term) the potatoes until they pop open. From here, you should add the 1/2 tsp salt, a beaten egg, your chopped broccoli and some shredded cheese. Then you're gonna use a mixer (handheld mixer, stand mixer, potato masher or a fork if you don't have any of those items) and whip everything together until it's all blended up.

Next on the agenda is formation. Combine your breadcrumbs with some garlic powder (you could also add onion powder, cayenne if they aren't for the kiddos, or any other flavors you enjoy!) and some grated Parmesan. Then take a scoop of your potato mixture and drop it into the breadcrumb mixture. Roll it around in the breadcrumbs, and form into a ball. Then smash the ball down into a "patty" shape.

Go ahead and take your pre-sprayed sheet pan, and arrange your patties for baking. They'll bake for about 20-25 minutes, until browned on top.

That's it! Our recipe made about 35 Broccoli Potato Bites, and it was very inexpensive! I usually have about 95% of these ingredients on hand all of the time, but even if you were to go out and purchase all of the ingredients needed, it would be less than $5 for the entire batch. The great thing about these, is they are great for kids and adults alike, and you know EXACTLY what's in them! An even bigger bonus? Once they come out of the oven, let them cool on the sheet pan, then pop 'em in the freezer! You've got Broccoli Potato Bites on hand at anytime day or night! You can reheat in the microwave or the oven. Give these a try and let me know what you think!

Broccoli Potato Bites
1 Lb red potatoes
1/2 Lb broccoli florets
2 tsp butter or oil
1/2 medium onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Panko or Breadcrumbs
Garlic Powder
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan

1. Scrub your potatoes, put them in a pan and cover with cold water. Place on the stove and cook over medium-high heat for 20-25 minutes or until cooked through.

2. While potatoes are cooking, chop onion and garlic, then saute in a small pan with butter or oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until translucent. Put into large mixing bowl.

3. Wash broccoli, put it in a microwave safe bowl with a little bit of water and microwave for 2-3 minutes until soft and tender. Chop broccoli into small bits or pulse in a food processor. Add to onion/garlic mixture in the mixing bowl.

4. Once potatoes are done, put them into the mixing bowl with broccoli, onions and garlic. Press down on the potatoes with the back of a spoon until they pop. Add salt, beaten egg, and cheese then mix with hand mixer (or stand mixer, potato masher, fork, etc) until well blended.

5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray. Mix the panko or breadcrumbs with Parmesan and garlic powder, then take your potato/broccoli mixture and drop by the spoonful (heaping tablespoon) into the breadcrumbs and roll it around to form a ball and coat it in breadcrumb mixture. Place the coated ball onto your sheet pan and flatten into a patty shape. Repeat until you're all out of potato mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until brown and crispy. Enjoy!

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