There is a well-known Cuban bakery in Los Angeles called Porto’s that I visit regularly. They make everything from breads to cakes, and offer both sweet and savory options. Their best seller is a deep fried potato ball that is stuffed with a savory mixture of meat and veggies. The potato balls are hearty and come in at under $1, making them a very affordable indulgence. This year for the holidays, Porto’s introduced a turkey-filled version of their popular potato ball that tasted a like Thanksgiving in a single bite. The balls were very tasty and inspired me to put my own Thanksgiving leftovers to good use in a batch of homemade Turkey and Stuffing Potato Balls,
The balls start with common Thanksgiving leftovers: mashed potatoes, stuffing and turkey. It doesn’t matter how you prepared any of these foods to begin with, just that you have plenty of leftovers to work with and that they are all well-chilled! To make the filling, I combined equal parts turkey and stuffing, chopping them up and stirring them together. If your stuffing is on the dry side and the balls of filling have difficulty sticking together (you should really pack them tightly), simply stir in a few tablespoons of gravy or turkey/chicken stock. I found that I got the best results when the balls of filling were just under a tablespoon.
Once the balls of filling are formed, you will need to make balls of leftover mashed potatoes. You will need 2-3 tablespoons of mashed potato to get a nice, even layer over your filling balls. Simply flatten the scoops of potato between your palms, then wrap the potato layer around the ball of filling.
Roll the balls between the palms of your hands to give them a smooth finish. The balls are then dipped in a beaten egg, covered with panko-style bread crumbs (regular bread crumbs can also be used) and chilled before frying. Chilling the balls gives them a chance to firm up slightly and helps the breadcrumbs to maintain their position when you drop them into the hot oil.
After chilling, the balls are fried until they are golden brown. Each one contains almost an entire Thanksgiving dinner in one bite and they are incredibly satisfying to eat. The crisp coating adds a nice texture to the creamy mashed potatoes, as well as to the warm turkey and stuffing mixture. These are a lot of fun to make and they’re fun to serve, as well. It takes a little bit of prep work, but you can make a batch as large or small as you need. It’s a delicious project to make the weekend after Thanksgiving, when you have plenty of leftovers and a little downtime at home.
Turkey and Stuffing Potato Balls
(aka Thanksgiving Leftover-Stuffed Potato Balls)
2/3 cup finely chopped or shredded turkey meat
2/3 cup leftover stuffing, chopped
3 cups leftover mashed potatoes, chilled
1 large egg
approx 2 cups Panko-style bread crumbs
oil, for frying
In a large bowl, stir together turkey meat and stuffing. If the mixture seems dry, stir in a few tablespoons of gravy or turkey stock. Shape into tablespoon-sized balls, packing them mixture tightly (bread from stuffing will compress when packed). Makes about 16 balls. Set aside.
Shape mashed potatoes into 3 tablespoon-sized balls (approximately the size of a golf ball). Press each ball between the palms of your hands to flatten, then place a stuffing ball in the center and wrap the potato around the filling, pinching to seal. Roll the ball between the palms of your hands to smooth the outside. Repeat with all remaining mashed potato and filling balls.
In a small bowl, beat the egg. Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Dip each potato ball into the egg, then into the breadcrumbs, rolling to coat evenly. Set on a large plate or tray. Repeat with all balls, then refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Heat vegetable oil for frying to 360F (make sure the oil is at least 4 inches deep in a pot or fryer). Carefully insert the balls into the oil and fry them 4 at a time. Cook balls for 3 – 3 1/2 minutes, until light golden. Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel to drain before serving.
Makes about 16 balls.