The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.

NO.53
SUMMER2017

Pat Chapman′s incongruous potato bacon cakes

Pat Chapman’s incongruous potato bacon cakes actually are rissoles, and a bit odd on several levels. Even though it sounds ineffably English and has not a hint of Indian seasoning, the Editor has not encountered it in any British cookbook but, unlike most of the recipes in Taste of the Raj, Chapman does not identify its origin. Then there is his anecdotal introduction to the recipe which, unlike the other introductions in the book, has nothing to do with the dish in question. It is described in the Notes for the amusement of our readers.

Despite any or all of this, the simple recipe, intended for leftovers, is uncommonly good and belies its humble ingredients. Four starters, savories or snacks.


  • potatoes_give_energy005.jpgoil for frying at a depth of about ½ inch
  • 2 Tablespoons minced crisp bacon
  • 2 Tablespoons minced ham
  • 1 Tablespoon minced chives or scallion tops
  • about 1 cup cooked mashed potato
  • a beaten egg
  • about 2 Tablespoons fine breadcrumbs

  1. Combine the bacon, ham and onion, then divide the mixture by four.
  2. Divide the mashed potato by four, bury each portion of the bacon mixture within each one and shape each blob into a cylinder, or rissole.
  3. Gingerly roll each rissole in the breadcrumbs.
  4. Make sure your oil reaches a temperature of 350° before frying the cakes until gold.

Notes:

-If you have a deepfryer with an automatic thermostat this is a good place to use it.

-Chapman uncharacteristically omits mention of any cooking fat. Ghee? Neutral oil? Maybe mustard oil, for some snap?

-The chives or scallions are the Editor’s addition.

-Chapman’s introduction to the recipe recounts an episode in which his mother and her brothers attempted to drink milk direct from the udder of a native goatherd’s nanny when they were children. It is a shaggy dog story (they could not figure out how to milk the goat; they got caught; they “got a good military ticking off, and were grounded for some time”) that includes no allusion to anything connected to the recipe itself. An editing error? The story refers to the children as ‘kids,’ which only adds to the confusion.