Not all cakes are sweet. In Italy, at least. The Potato Gatto’ is the savory exception that you will love.
Naples was dominated by the house of Bourbon who came from France in the early 1700’s. The Bourbons left behind a great legacy : their recipes. The french word “gateau” or cake, with time, in Italian, evolved into “gatto'” with the accent on the “o”.
This very simple main dish, is also a rich one: layers of mashed potatoes (same as potato croquettes) and sliced cured meats and cheeses (same as Casatiello) marry to create a creamy, sophisticated Neapolitan classic.
This recipe was my mom’s ” piece de la resistance”, to keep speaking in French terms.
While sick, I got to make it one more time with her, and write the recipe.
I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.
The added bonus is that you can use anything you have in the fridge and the Gatto’ makes for a great “everything goes” recipe.
It can be prepared a day ahead and cooked when needed.
Serve it warm or at room temperature as an appetizer.
Serves 6-8 or an 8″ spring form pan
Level : easy
Time: 3 hours including baking
1 lb 12 oz potatoes with skin ( I used Russet)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 stick of butter
Salt, pepper and Nutmeg to taste
1/2 C milk
2 oz of Pecorino cheese, finely grated (or more if you like)
4 to 6 oz of Ham off the bone, sliced or mixed sliced meats
8 slices of cheese: Gruyere is the best, or Manchego
Bread crumbs (Plain) and butter (unsalted) to garnish.
Boil the potatoes in salted water. When soft, drain and peel.
With a potato masher, mash the potatoes adding butter, milk, Pecorino, eggs, and spices.
Don’t worry if the mashed potato mix seems too runny.
Taste it. It shouldn’t be too salty since the sliced meats add flavor (and sodium)
Let the mix sit for a little bit, while you pre heat the oven to 375 F .
Butter and coat with breadcrumbs an 8″ spring form pan.
Divide the potato mix in half, and spread half in the pan. Level it with a spatula.
Layer half the cheese and then the sliced meats. Cover with another layer of cheese and the remaining potato mix.
NOTE: This is a great refrigerator-clean-up-recipe and you can use whatever cheese and meats you have.
Sprinkle with a generous layer of bread crumbs and dot with a little butter (about 3 Tbs).
Hey, I never said it was a fat free recipe!
Bake for about 30 minutes or until dark golden brown. The Potato Gatto’ will puff up nicely, but then deflate when you remove it from the oven. It’s ok!
Let it cool for about 30 minutes before slicing it, or you won’t get a neat looking cut.
As I said, you can assemble the whole Potato Gatto’ the day before and bake it when needed.