Potato Puff

Katie Maxwell, Visitor Services and Design Coordinator

I tend to cook with leftovers in mind, and since Thanksgiving is in a few weeks, I’ve been looking for ways to use up mashed potatoes. Sarah Tyson Rorer includes a “Potato Puff” recipe on page 293 of her 1886 book, Mrs. Rorer’s Philadelphia Cook Book.

The ingredients:

2 cups of hot or cold mashed potatoes

3 tablespoonfuls of cream

Two eggs

1 tablespoonful of butter

Salt and pepper to taste

I made some very basic mashed potatoes in preparation for this recipe. I included butter, salt, and milk, but no other mix-ins or flavorings like cheese or garlic. I’m not sure how any of these more flavorful additions would affect the final “potato puff,” so I am playing it safe.

Put the potatoes in a frying pan, add the yolks of the eggs, cream, and seasoning, stir over the fire until well mixed.

The trick here is to make sure the eggs don’t cook before they get mixed into the potatoes. I’m using a nonstick pan today.

 If the potatoes are cold, stir until they are hot.

Tyson didn’t say when to add the butter, so I’m adding it now.

I successfully avoided curdling the eggs. To be honest, I’m rather pleased with myself.

Take from the fire, and add carefully the well-beaten whites of the eggs.

I better beat those egg whites.

I wish 19th-century writers were more descriptive when describing how thoroughly egg whites should be beaten. I decided to beat the whites until I achieved soft peaks.

I’m adding the egg whites gradually, a bit at a time, so I don’t deflate them,

Until all of the egg whites are accounted for.

My potato/egg mixture looks extra fluffy. I have high hopes.

Heap on a greased baking-dish or in gem pans.

Since I have no idea what “gem pans” are, I am using a glass casserole dish that I greased with a bit of softened butter.

Bake in a quick oven until a nice brown.

This looks nicely browned to me. This time, I opted to go for the slightly higher end of “quick.” I baked the dish at 400°F for about 35 minutes. I was hoping for a bit more height from a dish with “puff” in the name.

I let it cool for a few minutes, and then it is time to taste!

It’s pretty good. Even though it doesn’t look very puffy, the potatoes still taste light and airy. So light and airy in fact, that I ate up half of the entire dish for lunch. “Potato Puff” is a solid method of using up some leftover mashed potatoes.