Only a lover of potatoes like me will want to read this post. Those who sneer at the tuber, those who turn their noses up in disdain at its humble hold at the dinner table and/or presume potatoes to be lacking in taste are kindly requested to go and gorge on rocket leaves or other vegetable of their fancy. Huh! Harrumph. I know I am in good company and I know that there are plenty of people out there who adore crisps/potato chips, for instance, as much as I do and pronounce them indispensable at times of emergency … and yes, an aperitivo can be thought of as an emergency-ette when you come to think of it. The body and mind tell us that it’s time to call it a day, grab a nice drink and be healthy by eating a few crisps so that one is not drinking on an empty stomach. Anyway, enough about potato scoffers, let us preach to potato lovers and introduce a homely recipe that is guaranteed to delight.
Basically, we are talking about mashed potatoes and boiled greens but the end result is so much more. “Ramoracce” in Frascati Italian (as opposed to ‘ramolacce’ in Italian Italian) are hard to find in markets even when they are in season (Spring) because they are wild of course, and not commercially grown. I doubt you’ll be able to find ramoracce so think of a suitable substitute – maybe spinach? or swiss chard? or turnip tops? The leaves have to be simmered before use, so rocket/arugula would not do.
Start by boiling and mashing the potates. Set aside and allow to cool. Here are the ramoracce … brought back home from the market. And here are a couple of onions, cooking in a pan with some olive oil. We don’t want to let them burn, but they must develop a bit of a brownish colour. This requires a low flame and some patience … about 20 minutes, all in all. Aren’t these ramoracce just crazy ! I love how they look. I don’t love cleaning them, however, sigh. We only want the leaves, not the stems and this can take quite a while to achieve. If you can find someone to do this job for you, all the better. Keep the stuff on the left, ditch the stuff on the right. Once removed from the stems, the leaves need to be thoroughly washed. Simmer them in salted water (do not add a lid ever otherwise the green hue will lose its brilliance and intensity). Drain the leaves and allow to cool. Then press them as hard as you can to get rid of any excess water. When the leaves are cool enough to handle, place them on a wooden board and chop away to your heart’s content !
So … at this point … we have: a) potatoes that have been mashed, b) leaves that have been cooked and roughly chopped and c) onions that have been caramelised. Time to put everything together.
Use a big bowl. Place the potates and leaves in it and add salt and pepper. Then add the onions. And now mix … And when the three ingredients have been combined, hark back to when you were little and enjoyed playing with sand or playdoh. Time to use your hands and form one big huge patty! But first … get hold of a large enough saucepan and drizzle some oil so that all the bottom is coated in it. Place your big huge patty in the saucepan and turn the heat on … See how thick it is? Well over two inches ! Cook, cook, cook away … for about 10 minutes say? and then flip this patty onto a large serving plate. Here it is. Now slide the patty back into the pan, cooked side up. And cook, cook, cook away again. Doesn’t the crispy top look beautiful already!
Slide it back onto the plate …And serve. And enjoy. And let’s hear it for potato lovers of the world!
P.S. The botanical name for ramoracce is : Raphanus raphanistrum … that would make it a relative of the radish family.