Crispy outside, tender inside, with a sweet secret filling: Russian vegan croquettes will become a celebrated part of your recipe collection.Yulia Mulino
When brainstorming ideas for Lent recipes, the book of Ivan Shmelov, "Sumner of God", came to my mind. This novel gives a good insight into Russian gastronomic life of the late 19th century. Only the description of the dishes is enough to have a mouth-watering effect. One dish caught my interest, in particular. Potato croquettes, or cutlets, with dried plums and apricots. I find this combination of savory and sweet ingredients quite intriguing. The textures look tempting as well. There is no recipe in the book, of course, but I know how exactly to make them.
In order to enrich the taste, I use my favorite trick with potatoes: give it flavor while boiling. In the water I always add garlic, onions, a bay leaf, black pepper and celery root. You will definitely use this method after trying it once.
I am not sure whether these Russian potato croquettes used to be cooked with bread crumbs in the 19th century, but, to my mind, it is highly recommended to use them, not just flour. You will be rewarded with a crunchy crust and glorious smell all over your house.
The best vegan accompaniment of the dish would be homemade fermented cabbage, but a salad with fresh veggies will do as well. If you don't mind making this dish vegetarian, you may serve it with yoghurt, which adds freshness. Or rather, a warm and nourishing dressing such as caramelized onions. They will emphasize the sweetness of the fruit filling.
1. Peel and boil potatoes adding celery root, half of an onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt, black pepper. Don't use young potatoes - the dough might be less sticky.
2. Soak dried fruit in hot water when the potatoes are boiling.
3. Cut potatoes in smaller pieces and let cool till slightly warm (almost cold). You should have 500 g of them.
4. Mash potatoes, add flour, some extra salt if necessary, pepper. You may add a bit of garlic powder if you like.
5. Add oil and mix the dough thoroughly.
6. Divide the dough in 8 equal parts.
7. Flatten each, put dried fruit inside.
8. Close the dough, cover each croquette with bread crumbs, and form rounds with the help of a glass.
9. Fry croquettes in oil on each side till golden color. Turn them carefully. Place them on a paper towel to remove extra oil.
10. To make caramelized onions, melt butter in a pan and stew sliced onions for about 25 minutes, stirring continuously.
11. Serve croquettes with a fresh salad, yoghurt or sweet onions.
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