These United States of America were founded on basic principles, one being Freedom. It became a melting pot for immigrants, mainly from Europe, who were leaving poverty, or seeking sanctuary for religious and/or political beliefs. This mixture of peoples from different countries also brought their tried and true recipes of the former homelands. As families met, couples married, and created blended families, so did the recipes intermingle. The East coast was becoming crowded; the streets were not paved with gold, but a new land was being shouted about…The West. The Pioneers began the trek out to the West; to seek their fortunes on open plains, or in the hills and mountains laden deep with gold, silver and copper.
Along the way, there were no general stores or restaurants; perhaps a trading post a thousand miles or so. Provisions were on the wagons; hopefully the men would be lucky enough to catch fish in the rivers, or shoot wild game for meat. Now the pioneer women were resourceful themselves; every scrap of food, from flour to butter to fruit and vegetables, had to be used up; there could be no waste! In other words, leftovers were not something to sniff at and turn the head away; they were used and reconstructed into something new and delicious.
Let’s take one of my old time favorites, mashed potatoes…a fluffy mass of potato goodness seasoned with salt, pepper, perhaps an herb or two; rich and comforting with milk and butter. I can picture it now, sitting in front of the fire on a cold or rainy day; a steaming bowl of buttery potatoes, a spoonful resting on the tongue, then slowly slides down the throat. The deep sigh of satisfaction as warm comfort envelopes, not just the stomach, but the entire body and mind. Alright, you get it, I truly enjoy mashed potatoes when they are fresh and hot. Ah, but what about when they become cold, not so nice then…and back to our women pioneers.
Potato Fritters, British and Irish Pancakes, Jewish Latke, Polish Placki; name a European ancestry and you’ll find a version of one of these. Now while I was researching Utah pioneer recipes, I came across an article, “A Melting Pot of Pioneer Recipes” by Winnifred C. Jardina at the Official Website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Let me quote one paragraph, “Thrift fritters were a combination of cold mashed potatoes and any other leftover vegetables and/or meat, onion for flavoring, a beaten egg, and seasonings, shaped into patties and browned well on both sides in hot drippings.” However, there was no actual recipe within the articles, and I wondered, how was I to make these without a recipe? I began searching and searching, and I had a “Duh!” moment; of course, this was what I knew as a potato pancake!
Now it just happened I had made a roast beef dinner including mashed potatoes and peas; gee, can you guess what I did with the leftovers?
Pioneer Thrift Fritters
2 eggs, beaten4 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 Tbsp. dried parsley leaves, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste.
1 cup cooked beef, diced
½ cup cooked peas
¼ cup sautéed diced onion
1 cup plain, dried bread crumbs
4 Tbsp. canola oil
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
n a large bowl, mix together the first seven ingredients, combine well. From the mixture, use an ice cream scoop to make balls (if using hands, golf ball size); flatten to ½ inch and press both sides into the bread crumbs.
In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter in the oil over medium-high heat. Put 4 fritters into the pan; reduce heat to medium low and cook for 15-20 minutes. Carefully lift a fritter to check for brownness before flipping them over. Fry other side for 15 minutes; drain on paper towels. Repeat frying the fritters in batches of 4 as instructed for the first batch. Add more oil and butter as needed.
Note: Just because I used a Mormon site to obtain this recipe, does not mean I am Mormon. I don't discriminate; I accept people for who and what they are, and I expect the same treatment; regardless of, well just about anything. Now, of course, if the person is a complete smuck, well then that goes towards the personality, not against race, religion, politics, ethnicity, yada, yada, yada.