Gattò di patate (Potato “Cake”)

Gattò di patate

Another example of the French Bourbon legacy in Neapolitan cooking, this gattò—from the French gateau—is a savory ‘cake’ made of mashed potatoes enriched with eggs, butter and grated cheese, a mixture you may remember from our recipe for crocchè di patate (Potato Croquettes). The filling for this cake is a combination of cheeses and cured meats reminiscent of the pizza rustica or the casatiello, two other Neapolitan classics. Its appearance, on the other hand, reminds me of a sartù, another French-influenced Neapolitan dish, only a bit squatter.

For a fancy occasion, the gattò can be treated just like an actual cake, baked in a springform pan and unmolded onto a serving dish, to be sliced into wedges. For a cosy family dinner, it can be baked and served still nestled in a casserole.

Either way, the ultra-filling gattò di patate is typically served, warm but not scalding hot, as a piatto unico—a one-dish meal—although a thin slice could also do service as an antipasto or perhaps a substantial primo.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6 persons

For the ‘cake’:

  • 1 kg (2 lbs) potatoes suitable for mashing
  • 4 eggs
  • 75g (3 oz) butter
  • 75g (3 oz) freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • A few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Milk (if needed)

For the filling*:

  • 100-150g (4 oz) of mixed cured meats, such as cooked ham and salami, cut into very small cubes
  • 100-150g (4 oz) of cheeses such as  smoked scamorza and mozzarella, sliced or cut into small cubes

For molding and baking:

  • Butter
  • Breadcrumbs

Directions

Steam (or boil) the potatoes until they are fully tender, about 20-30 minutes depending on the size and quality of the potato. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and run them through a food mill or potato ricer into a large bowl, as if you were making mashed potatoes. Add the butter, grated cheese, seasonings and whole eggs. You can also add, as pictured, the cured meats to this mixture.

Gattò (prep 1)

Mix everything very well until the butter is melted and the other ingredients well incorporated.  If the mixture is too stiff to work with, add a bit of milk, a few drops at a time, until you have the texture you want.

Gattò (prep 2)

Now grease the bottom and sides of an 8″ cake pan (or casserole) with the butter and line completely it with breadcrumbs.

Gattò (prep 3)

Spread out half the mashed potato mixture on the bottom of the pan,

Gattò (prep 4)

then arrange the cheese and (if you have not added them to the potato mixture) the cured meats on top.

Gattò (prep 5)

Add the other half of the mashed potato mixture on top of the filling and even it out so that the surface is nice and flat. (This is an operation best accomplished with your hands—just don’t let any of your dinner guests see you…) Top the whole thing with more breadcrumbs and a few nobs of butter here and there.

Gattò (prep 6)

Bake in a moderate oven (180C/350F) for about 30-45 minutes, until the gattò is cooked through and golden brown. (If the top is not quite browned enough, you can raise the heat for a few minutes before removing from the oven.)

Let the gattò cool off for a good 20 minutes or so before serving. Unmold the gattò if you baked it in a cake pan, and serve it just like a cake. If you baked it in a casserole, just bring it to the table and serve.

Gattò (slice)

Notes

This is a dish that calls for mealy potatoes, the kind you would use for mashed—not the waxy kind you would use for a salad or gratin. In the US, russets or Yukon Golds will do nicely.

This is a dish that lends itself to all sorts of variations according to town and family traditions or personal taste. The meats and cheeses can vary according to family tradition, although many Neapolitans will tell you that the filling for a real gattò di patate must include smoked scamorza. Unfortunately, that can be hard to find outside the old country; in the US, a smoked mozzarella is probably the closest substitute that can be found in most supermarkets. Provolone is another good choice. But you can really use whatever strikes your fancy. Same goes for the cured meats. Cooked ham and salami are classic, but little cubes of prosciutto are nice. Manuela Zangara of Manu’s Menu tells us that in her family their filling included mortadella, provolone and fontal.

*There are also different schools of thought about how to add the meats and cheeses. They can be sliced or cubed, both mixed with the potato, both used as a separate middle layer or, as shown above, the meats mixed with the potato and the cheese layered in between.

The number of eggs in the mashed potato mixture also varies widely among recipes. I’ve seen recipes calling for a little as a single egg  per 1 kg (2 lbs.) of potato.  The more eggs you use, the more solid your gattò will be, of course. Jeanne Caròla Francesconi calls for adding four yolks and 3 whipped whites, which gives the mixture some ‘lift’. If you want to serve your gattò like a cake, sliced into wedges, you might want to err on the side of more eggs. If you prefer to spoon your gattò on to soft mounds on your plate, use fewer eggs.

Like la parmigiana di melanzane, I understand that Sicilians also make gattò di patate, which isn’t that surprising given that both regions were under common rule of the Regno delle Due Sicilie for many years. How different the Sicilian version might be, I’m not sure. Perhaps some reader will let us know…

Post scriptum

Apologies to our regular readers for the lack of posts lately. Between work and home life has been all-consuming lately—and unfortunately not in a good way—but we’re back! We’ve also been busy setting up a really lovely new website site for you, with more or less the same look but with enhanced functionality. With any luck, it should be up and running this week!

Gattò di patate (Potato “Cake”)

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Serves 4-6

Gattò di patate (Potato “Cake”)

Ingredients

    For the 'cake':
  • 1 kg (2 lbs) potatoes suitable for mashing
  • 4 eggs
  • 75g (3 oz) butter
  • 75g (3 oz) freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • A few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Milk (if needed)
  • For the filling*:
  • 100-150g (4 oz) of mixed cured meats, such as cooked ham and salami, cut into very small cubes
  • 100-150g (4 oz) of cheeses such as smoked scamorza and mozzarella, sliced or cut into small cubes
  • For molding and baking:
  • Butter
  • Breadcrumbs

Directions

  1. Steam (or boil) the potatoes until they are fully tender, about 20-30 minutes depending on the size and quality of the potato. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes and run them through a food mill or potato ricer into a large bowl, as if you were making mashed potatoes. Add the butter, grated cheese, seasonings and whole eggs. You can also add, as pictured, the cured meats to this mixture.
  2. Mix everything very well until the butter is melted and the other ingredients well incorporated. If the mixture is too stiff to work with, add a bit of milk, a few drops at a time, until you have the texture you want.
  3. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8" cake pan (or casserole) with the butter and line completely it with breadcrumbs.
  4. Spread out half the mashed potato mixture on the bottom of the pan, then arrange the cheese and (if you have not added them to the potato mixture) the cured meats on top.
  5. Add the other half of the mashed potato mixture on top of the filling and even it out so that the surface is nice and flat. Top the whole thing with more breadcrumbs and a few nobs of butter here and there.
  6. Bake in a moderate oven (180C/350F) for about 30-45 minutes, until the gattò is cooked through and golden brown. (If the top is not quite browned enough, raise the heat for a few minutes before removing from the oven.)
  7. Let the gattò cool off for a good 20 minutes or so before serving. Unmold the gattò if you baked it in a cake pan, and serve it just like a cake. If you baked it in a casserole, just bring it to the table and serve.
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39 Responses to “Gattò di patate (Potato “Cake”)”

  1. 25 March 2014 at 15:09 #

    I just found your website as I was looking for the potato gatto. A local Sicilian chef shared his recipe using Bolognese sauce in between the layers of mashed potato. He didn’t give me the exact recipe, so I had to go looking. Glad I found your website.

    • 2 April 2014 at 01:36 #

      Thanks for much for stopping by, Sharon! That variation does sound awfully good. I’ll have to give it go the next time I make gattò!

  2. 17 December 2013 at 23:26 #

    I want to make this right now! My Irish husband would love this from his half-Sicilian wife!

  3. 21 October 2013 at 20:19 #

    Love the look of this

  4. Mr. Alter
    20 October 2013 at 20:43 #

    Frank, in the past few weeks your blog became my “go to” place for Italian recipes. Even more importantly, I continued to refined my fresh pasta cooking using your wonderful tips and instructions (which thanks to Google I landed here in the first place). Your interesting background stories add depth to a uniquely diverse Italian cuisine. An hour ago, barely 15 minutes after this wonderful “cake” came out of my oven, my wife and I had a couple of slices from this wonderful recipe.

    So thank you for this treasure of recipes and knowledge, and for your passion and love of cooking. Please keep it up!

    • 21 October 2013 at 11:13 #

      That’s awesome, Mr. Alter! For me there’s no greater satisfaction than to know that people are cooking from my recipes and enjoying the results. Thanks so very much for your readership. And rest assured I’ll keep doing what I’m doing for the foreseeable future!

      Cheers,
      Frank

  5. 19 October 2013 at 21:37 #

    I never made gatto di patate, but it sure looks amazing!

  6. 14 October 2013 at 18:18 #

    This is such an interesting recipe. I’d heard of timbalos, but never encountered something so similar, but made with potatoes. Is this exclusively a Neapolitan specialty or do they make it all over southern Italy? Thanks. Ken

  7. Roman
    14 October 2013 at 14:08 #

    Tried this yesterday….brilliant, and will look at the variations again in the very near future.
    Many thanks for sharing this….

    • 14 October 2013 at 22:58 #

      Wonderful, Roman! So glad you liked it. :=)

  8. 13 October 2013 at 20:08 #

    Your photos make me almost taste the deliciousness!

    • 14 October 2013 at 22:58 #

      Thanks so much, Alessandra!

  9. 13 October 2013 at 18:52 #

    Squisito!!!! But this is one of my FAVE foods. What more can I say – also I note that you use an 8″ pan. Bully for you! I love a good, high gattò While some cooks use larger pans, and their gatti (?) are indeed lovely and truly tempting, it’s the high ones, like yours that send me. In mine I use 2 # of potatoes and a 9″ pan. Next time I think I’ll use an 8″ pan. Thanks for the inspiration. Don’t you think our grandmothers would have loved to have had non-stick springform pans – surely one of the BEST inventions ever. Bravo, amico!

    • 14 October 2013 at 23:00 #

      Adri, You have a fine eye for detail! Yes, it was the 8″ pan. I like a slightly higher gattò, too. Really makes an impression, no? The low kind is also lovely, of course—and you get more filling per slice to boot. You really can’t go wrong with all these yummy ingredients…

  10. 12 October 2013 at 00:37 #

    This recipe looks divine. I’ve never had it , but would love too.

    • 14 October 2013 at 23:01 #

      Worth a try, Judee! Thanks for stopping by. :=)

  11. Amos
    11 October 2013 at 11:03 #

    Another fabulous addition to a stellar collection! This will warm hearts & tummies around my place this Autumn – a perfect comfort food. Thanks, again, Frank!

    • 14 October 2013 at 23:02 #

      And thank *you* so much, Amos, for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  12. 8 October 2013 at 10:00 #

    Just good to see you back!

    • 10 October 2013 at 03:04 #

      Thanks so much, it’s good to be back. :=)

  13. laura
    8 October 2013 at 06:28 #

    Thank you for this recipe, Frank. I’ve been wanting to try a “gattò” for some time now and you’ve given me the perfect lead. Your explanations are always clear and thorough. I’m sorry for whatever has kept you away but have my fingers crossed that “back” means “in a good way” now.
    Grazie mille, for this and many other recipes and reminiscings.

    • 10 October 2013 at 03:03 #

      You’re so welcome, Laura! And thank *you* for your readership. It’s good to be back in the saddle, so to speak… :=)

      • laura
        11 October 2013 at 19:37 #

        Good to have you back; good to have you at my fingertips! :)

  14. Diane
    8 October 2013 at 04:54 #

    This is one for the winter and will definitely be on our menu.

    • 10 October 2013 at 03:02 #

      That’s fantastic, Diane! Let us know how you like it.

  15. 7 October 2013 at 20:12 #

    It’s like a giant Italian hashbrown! (Well, kind of) How about a giant Italian latke? (Still not really…) Either way, it looks like a fun and tasty recipe. My husband would go nuts for it.

    • 10 October 2013 at 03:02 #

      Well worth a try, Rachel! I kinda like the hashbrown analogy! Or the latke, too. Love them both.

  16. anna
    7 October 2013 at 19:49 #

    Looks very very nice and tasty. Will definitely have a go at it!

    It’s always nice to come up with new recipes for the family!

    • 10 October 2013 at 03:01 #

      Do let us know how it turns out for you, Anna!

  17. 7 October 2013 at 15:15 #

    Frank – This is such a delicious recipe. My friend from Salerno first introduced me to it and I get weak thinking about eating it!

    • 10 October 2013 at 03:00 #

      It’s a real treat, isn’t it?

  18. 7 October 2013 at 13:15 #

    Ricordo ancora l’enorme teglia di gatto’ che la zia Elvira ci preparava quando insieme alla mia famiglia andavamo a Salerno, sotto la crosticina croccante si nascondeva una meraviglia fatta di patate , mozzarella e salumi, non sono mai riuscita ad eguagliarla !Le tue foto mi hanno messo voglia di riprovare a farla, grazie Frank ! Buona settimana…

    • 10 October 2013 at 03:00 #

      Grazie, Chiara! Sai anch’io ho molti parenti a Salerno solo che non ci sono mai andato. Che peccato…

  19. Candace
    7 October 2013 at 11:00 #

    This looks like an amazing cool-weather comfort dish. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe and techniques!

    • 10 October 2013 at 02:58 #

      You’re welcome, Candace! And thank *you* for your readership.

  20. 7 October 2013 at 10:25 #

    This is a dish I have never had before but know I would love.

    • 10 October 2013 at 02:57 #

      I’m sure you would, Karen! Well worth a try…

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