A sturdy Goan staple—potato chops—becomes a satisfying morning meal

Nik Sharma
December 04, 2018
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If you've looked at any year-end best-of cookbook lists, you've surely come across Nik Sharma's Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food—and probably bought a copy for yourself. Sharma developed, wrote, and photographed the recipes from his own perspective, that of a gay immigrant from India to the American South, then California, to create a deeply personal and endlessly generous, accessible, and innovative collection of dishes worthy of a home on everyone's table. He stopped Extra Crispy HQ to share his method for making a favorite Goan staple, and talk with us about why it's so important for people to find joy in the food they make and eat.

Ground-Lamb and Potato "Chops" with Sambal Oelek

Photo by Kat Kinsman

Recipe reprinted from Season by Nik Sharma with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018.

I think of potato chops as little parcels of joy. There is no better way to combine meat and potatoes than this Goan specialty. Imagine your fork piercing a pan-fried coating of crisp bread crumbs and sinking into a layer of smooth mashed potatoes and then juicy, spiced ground meat. If you have any left over, enjoy them for breakfast. Top each one with a fried egg and a big spoonful of Hot Green Chutney. You can find sambal oelek, a chile-based Indonesian condiment, in many grocery stores and most Asian markets.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup minced red onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 piece ginger (1 inch), peeled and grated
1 pound ground lamb
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sambal oelek
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed
1 large egg
2 cups dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions

In a large skillet with a cover, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onion and saute until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger; cook until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds. Break up lamb into small chunks and add to skillet; cook until meat is browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Add vinegar, sambal oelek, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; stir gently to combine. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir in cilantro and adjust seasoning as desired. (Lamb filling can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, up to 1 day.)

While lamb is cooking, place potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with cool water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until completely tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain; let potatoes cool to room temperature. (Potatoes can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, up to 1 day.)

Peel potatoes; using a masher or fork (or a ricer if you prefer a smoother texture), mash until there are no visible chunks left behind. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

To assemble chops, take 3 or 4 generous tablespoons mashed potatoes in the palms of your hands and flatten into a disk. Put 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons lamb filling in the center, and fold the edges of the potato around it to form a patty 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. Transfer to a sheet of parchment; repeat with remaining potatoes and filling.

Whisk egg in a small bowl. Spread out breadcrumbs on a baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush a patty with egg and coat evenly with breadcrumbs, shaking off excess. Repeat with remaining patties.

In a nonstick or cast-iron skillet, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium-low. Cook patties in batches, adding more oil as needed, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot or warm.

For breakfast: Potato chops make wonderful leftovers. Warm them and serve with a ghee-fried egg on top.

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