In Nonstal in northern Italy, these potato fritters, traditionally fried in a copper pan, are an essential part of every village celebration. For family and guests at home, the tortei di patate are placed in the middle of the table and everyone can simply help themselves. They are accompanied by cheese, bacon, salami and a good glass of red wine.
Tart or cake?
In the rural cuisine of Trentino, the tortei di patate, literally: potato tarts, are often eaten as a starter. In the past, they were fried in lard, in some valleys also in a mixture of butter and lard. This is because the nearest olive trees grow only in the very south of the region or on Lake Garda. Today, the potato fritters are usually deep-fried in vegetable oil or the reduced-fat oven version is chosen (at 200° C). The approximately 1.5 cm high fritter from the oven is called torta di patate, potato cake.
Kennebec, or majestic potatoes, are best for preparing these potato fritters. The floury varieties have a white flesh and contain little water. This makes it possible to prepare them without adding any flour at all. In other parts of Trentino-Alto Adige, where these varieties are not grown, the recipe is supplemented with flour and sometimes eggs. To make the fritters perfect, it is also important to use the right – coarse – grater. Potato fritters taste best very fresh and crispy fried or baked.
Potato fritters Trentino style - Tortel di patate
- 5 large potatoes
- oil, sunflower or other neutral oil for frying
- Peel and coarsely grate the potatoes, put them in a sieve and let them drain for 30 minutes. Only then salt well. If your potatoes are not floury enough, bind the dough with 2 tablespoons of plain flour.
- Now heat plenty of oil in a frying pan and pour in about a ladle and a half of potato mixture. Or you can use one heaped tablespoonful of potato mixture for several small fritters. Flatten the fritters in the pan (about 0.5 cm) and fry until golden brown on both sides. Turn potato fritters only when the bottom is crispy and browning, otherwise they may fall apart. Drain briefly on paper towels and serve immediately.