Here is one of our favourite ways of eating potatoes with a big meal, like the Christmas lunch. Puffballs are deep fried balls of potato and choux pastry mix - they are light and very tasty, here's how to make them.
We'd eaten this recipe for 40 years at my folks' before we discovered the "proper" name for them is "Pommes Dauphine", and they were quite popular in Eastern Europe too.
Step 1: First Collect the Ingredients
1lb, or 450 gms of mashed potatoes
1/4 pint 145mL of water
3 eggs (1 yolk and 2 whole eggs)
2.5 oz (71g) of plain "all purpose" flour.
3 oz (85g) of butter (1 oz and 2oz)
Step 2: Make Mashed Potato
The mash MUST be very dry. The best way I found was to cook the potatoes in the microwave until soft. Prick the potatoes all over first. Peel them when still hot, and mash them. Let them cool down on a tray, which also drives off a bit more water.
Step 3: Make Choux Pastry
Choux pastry, the basis of the chocolate eclair is a very versatile element of cookery. It will be providing its light fluffy texture to our puff balls.
Bring 1/4 pint of water gently to the boil, melting 2oz of the butter into the warming water.
Step 4: Choux 2
...when the water boils, remove from the heat and add ALL the flour. Stir like MAD to make a thick paste.
Step 5: Choux 3
Break the first whole egg and "chop" or cut the egg into the flour paste. It will look AWFUL at this stage ! Persevere. After a few seconds the mixture will turn into a glistening smooth paste. At this point, add the other egg ! This time, it will take longer to mix in, but again, it will clear to the paste.
CHILL the paste (this is important)
Step 6: Back to the Mash
After everything is chilled down, blend in 1 oz of flour, and an egg yolk into the cold mashed potatoes.
Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste.
Once mixed, fold in the choux mixture.
Step 7: Final Mixture
Here is a picture of the final mix, should be an even colour, if the mixing is right.
Step 8: Cooking
There is nothing hard about cooking the puffballs. Heat a pan with 25-30mm of hot oil in a suitable pan. It doesn't need to be very big. Reckon on 180C in the oil for good results.
Very carefully, use a dessert spoon to put a drop of mixture into the oil. Fill the pan with drops as fast as possible.
If you get the mash really dry, you can actually roll small balls of the doughy mixture between your palms. They look really great then ! Whatever, they taste great.
After the drops cook on one side for about 4 minutes, flip them over and cook on the other side. Remove and drain onto clean kitchen paper. Serve hot.
Something about cooking the puffballs "does something" to the fryer oil, it doesn't filter out, but the oil tends to foam alarmingly if its used again. We tend to use the oil just for cooking the puffballs and change it out.
The puffballs develop a lovely crispy skin in seconds after immersion in the hot oil. That means that they seem to absorb very little oil from the pan.
Step 9: Additions
Mixing chopped onion, or garlic into the basic mixture adds a nice spin. They're versatile things, a little grated cheese and/or bacon pieces all add a little extra. Thanks to RavingMadStudio for the suggestion.