Crispy Potato Cakes with Porcini and Andouille Ragu
A BRUCE AIDELLS SIGNATURE RECIPEThese crispy potato cakes are somewhere between potato pancakes and hashed browns. They are great as a side dish, especially for grilled or pan fried Aidells sausages. When served with the Porcini and Andouille Ragu, you have the makings of a special brunch, lunch or a simple dinner.
To make the potato cakes: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Scrub the potatoes and pat dry with paper towels. Bake until soft, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the optional sausage and fry until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the watercress and garlic and cook until the watercress wilts, stirring constantly, about 1½ minutes.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and peel when cool enough to handle. Put the potatoes in a large bowl and break into large chunks with a fork. Add the mustard and the watercress mixture. Stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Beat 1 egg with a fork to blend, and then mix it into the potatoes. Spoon the mixture into a shallow bowl or plate, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and as long as overnight.
Divide the potato mixture into 4 equal portions. Shape into patties about 4-inches in diameter and 1-inch thick, pressing together to hold shape. Place on a platter. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead.)
Place the flour in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Place breadcrumbs in another shallow bowl or pie pan. Place the remaining 2 eggs and milk in a third shallow bowl or pie pan and beat with a fork to blend. Pick up a potato cake and press together to hold shape, place in the flour, and turn to coat, gently shake off excess. Place in egg mixture, turning to coat, letting excess drain off. Place in breadcrumbs and turn to coat thoroughly. (Potato cakes are fragile and you may need to press them together several times during the dipping process to hold their shape.) Arrange cakes on a clean platter or sheet pan.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the potato cakes (pressing together to hold shape if necessary) and cook until golden, about 5 minuets on each side. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the cakes are heated through, 8 to 10 minutes.
To serve, divide the cakes between 4 plates. Spoon the ragu over. Top with a poached or fried egg. Sprinkle with thyme, if desired, and serve.
To make the porcini and andouille ragu: Place the porcini in a small bowl or 2-cup-glass measuring cup and cover with boiling water. Let soak until softened, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the mushrooms and soaking liquid separately. Chop the mushrooms.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the sausages and sauté until light brown, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the button mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer half the mushrooms to a bowl and reserve. Add the porcini mushrooms and wine to the pan. Boil 5 minutes. Add 2 cups chicken broth and porcini liquid, leaving any sediment behind. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is syrupy and the mixture measures about 3 cups, about 20 minutes. Add the thyme and simmer 3 minutes to blend the flavors. Mix in the reserved button mushrooms. (Can be prepared to this point up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to a simmer before continuing, adding more broth if the sauce is dry.) Whisk in the butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serves 4