Croquettes and patties fall into that wonderful zone of ordinary comfort foods we tend to rely on when we’ve collected a few leftovers in the fridge. But patties generously packed with bits of chestnuts, carrots, and onions are anything but pedestrian, even with the leftovers. It’s those precious little chestnuts, with their mystical sweetness, that brings these little cakes to life. Save those scanty leftovers of cooked rice and potatoes—they’re just what these little pattycakes need to hold them together.
These irresistible little patties are just right for a small family meal. If you plan on having an extra guest or two, double the recipe so no one will leave hungry.
Because these delicious patties are fried, I consider them an indulgent treat and save them for a special occasion–and there’s always a special occasion during the holidays. Because chestnuts are available for only a short season (October through December or January) they become one of the tasty treasures of the holiday season.
Cooking a peeling fresh chestnuts is a bit time consuming, so if you don’t want to bother cooking and peeling them, you can buy them already cooked and peeled in vacuum-sealed packages or jars. Avoid the ones that come water-packed in cans. They’re simply awful–they’re mushy and tasteless.
I may be a glutton for punishment, but to my mind, there’s nothing that quite takes the place of fresh chestnuts, and I’m a willing sucker for the laborious task. It actually becomes a seasonal ritual I’ve come to love. If you do want to take the time to cook and peel them yourself, you can order fresh chestnuts directly from the grower. Here’s a link to the post that has all the contact information for several growers in the U.S. Go to the websites and ask to be added to the mailing list. That way, they’ll let you know as soon as the fresh chestnuts are harvested and ready for sale in late September or October. Place your order soon, because they may be sold out by Thanksgiving.
One last comment, these little pattycakes are so tasty on their own, they really don’t need any kind of sauce to jazz them up. But if you’re a diehard sauce enthusiast, try a little vegan mayo, a dab of Hoisin, or a dollop of vegan sour cream.
Yield: 6 pattycakes
1 cup diced cooked and peeled chestnuts
1 medium carrot, coarsely shredded
3/4 cup cooked short-grain brown rice
1/2 cup chopped sweet onions
1 medium white or red rose potato, boiled and coarsely chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 to 2/3 cup almond meal
1/4 cup canola oil, divided
- Combine the chestnuts and carrots in a large mixing bowl and set them aside.
- Combine the rice, onions, and potato in the food processor and process until they are completely pureed. You may have to scrape down the sides of the work bowl, redistribute the ingredients, and process again.
- Spoon the rice mixture into the bowl with the chestnuts and add the water, salt, and pepper. Stir the mixture thoroughly with a fork to incorporate all the ingredients and distribute them evenly.
- Pour the almond meal onto a flat dish. Form the chestnut mixture into 6 patties, two inches in diameter, and dip both sides into the almond meal to coat them completely.
- Pour half the canola oil into a 10-inch non-stick skillet over high heat. The oil is ready when a drop of water makes it sizzle. Cook the patties about two minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown, and transfer them to a serving dish lined with a double layer of paper towels to drain.
- Transfer the patties to a serving plate and sprinkle them lightly with salt and pepper.