These ground lamb and potato patties from Nik Sharma encapsulate spiced ground meat in a fluffy mashed potato shell that’s coated with bread crumbs and pan-fried until golden brown.
I think of potato chops as little parcels of joy. There is no better way to combine meat and potatoes than this Goan specialty. Imagine your fork piercing a pan-fried coating of crisp bread crumbs and sinking into a layer of smooth mashed potatoes and then juicy, spiced ground meat. If you have any left over, enjoy them for breakfast. Top each one with a fried egg and a big spoonful of Hot Green Chutney. You can find sambal oelek, a chile-based Indonesian condiment, in many grocery stores and most Asian markets.
If you don’t care for lamb, or red meat in general, you can substitute ground chicken or turkey. In the traditional Goan version of this dish, the meat is flavored with a combination of spices and coconut vinegar. I like to include sambal oelek and apple cider vinegar, which makes all the flavors pop.–Nik Sharma
Ground Lamb and Potato Patties
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup (5 oz) minced red onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- One piece (1 inch) fresh ginger peeled and grated
- 1 pound ground lamb turkey, or chicken
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade sambal oelek
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 pounds russet potatoes (about 4)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup dried unseasoned bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup mild vegetable oil
- In a large skillet with a lid over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds more.
- Break up the ground lamb into very small chunks and add it to the skillet. Brown the meat until mostly cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes.
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, the vinegar, and the sambal oelek, and stir gently to combine.
- Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in the cilantro and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. (The lamb filling may be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
- While the lamb is cooking, pull out a large stockpot. Scrub the potatoes, drop into the pot and add enough cool water to cover by 1 inch (2.5 cm). Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, turn the heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer the potatoes until completely tender, about 30 minutes.
☞TESTER TIP: If you’re pressed for time, you can peel and cube the potatoes before boiling, then proceed with mashing them while warm.
- Carefully drain off the water and allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature. (The potatoes may be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
- Peel the potatoes and, with a masher or fork (or a ricer if you prefer a smoother texture), mash until there are no visible chunks left behind.
- Season with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
- To assemble the chops, take 3 or 4 generous tablespoons of the mashed potatoes in the palms of your hands and flatten into a disk. Put 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of the lamb filling in the center, and fold the edges of the potato around it to form a patty about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and repeat with the remaining meat and potatoes.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg. Spread out the bread crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Using a pastry brush, brush a patty with the egg and coat evenly with the bread crumbs, shaking off the excess. Repeat with the remaining patties.
- In a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm 1 to 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Cook the patties in batches, adding more oil as needed, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot or warm.
In The Unlikely Event You Have LeftoversWe’re guessing these will all be devoured the moment they hit the table, but if you’ve got a few leftovers, reheat in a 250°F (121°C) oven for about 30 minutes.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is definitely a comfort food recipe, with the warming spices, rich ground meat, soft potato and just crisped breadcrumb crust. I think it would also be a good prep ahead recipe, and extras could be easily frozen for future meals.
I served these with a green chutney (mint and cilantro, garlic and ginger) and sauteed crisp green beans. It was great to have a variety to the texture- the patties were very soft other than the crisped edges, and the herbal chutney helped to enhance/balance the flavor. I think I will add more heat next time, perhaps I’ll actually make my own Sambal Oelek!
My family was unanimous in their vote, giving this recipe enthusiastic thumbs up all around. Although there are a considerable number of steps and dishes involved, the payoff here is well worth the effort.
I used ground lamb, and as stated by the author, the apple cider vinegar and sambal oelek do indeed give the meat a wonderful flavor boost. The crunchy exterior, creamy potatoes and spicy meat combine to make for a deliciously satisfying and very tasty dish.
If you are short on time, the “do ahead” advice allows you to make the meat and potatoes up to a day beforehand. Do be sure to break up your meat into very small pieces so that it is more easily surrounded by the mashed potatoes. I found it difficult to make the patties as small as directed, but cannot see that it matters as long as you shape them into evenly flat discs in order to get even browning. 1 cup of breadcrumbs was more than enough for coating them generously.
In my cast-iron pan, I found it took a bit more oil and time to achieve a deep golden brown. Don’t rush them…and delicious golden brown crunchiness will be your reward. I ended up with 16 patties, for a total of 6 servings. We enjoyed them with corn on the cob and a simple tomato salad. The sweetness of these vegetables paired nicely with the spicy patties. A big green salad would also have been a welcome side dish.
While the first time I saw this photo I was convinced it was an English muffin, these little potato patties pack quite the punch. The lamb filling is DELICIOUS and it was hard not to keep snacking on it out of the skillet as I waited for it to cool…the vinegar tang with the bright crunch of the cilantro and the kick of the sambal. Let’s get real though: russets are giant potatoes and will not be completely tender in 20-25 minutes…think more like 50. Do yourself a favor and spend the 3 minutes to peel them and cut into big chunks before boiling…it will save you a ton of time.
I served mine with the Cilantro Chutney from Meera Sodha’s “Made In India”, which really brought the flavors together. In fact, it’s a perfect pairing, since you can use the crunchy cilantro stems finely minced in the filling, and use the leaves for the chutney. The leftovers were also delicious for breakfast the next morning topped with a fried egg, as per the author’s suggestion. This recipe will definitely be in play anytime I have leftover mashed potatoes. In fact, I can imagine making a Thanksgiving leftover version of these as well.
I cut the leftovers into squares and reheated them, uncovered, in a 250°F oven for 30 minutes. This helped dry it out more and it was quite good with more crusty bits
I never knew I needed a meat-filled mashed potato pancake in my life until I made this dish. Meat and potatoes is a fool-proof pairing, so marrying them together into one delightful mouthful is a no-brainer. Plus, I’ll always be won over by the under-utilized ground lamb.
The technique to build the patties was reminiscent of constructing classic dumplings, except a little more vulnerable to breakage because you’re constructing them out of mashed potatoes instead of proper dough. It’ll take some time to form perfect discs and find the right balance of meat to avoid these bad boys exploding when they hit the hot pan. (Learn from my mistakes!) The process became pretty meditative the deeper I got into it, though. Maybe you’ll feel the same, too.
Honestly, how can you have anything bad to say about fluffy potatoes and flavorful lamb? The exterior also had a great crispness from the breadcrumb coating, so you get a nice sound bite when you dig into it. The only adjustment I’d make is adding a tad bit more sambal oelek to the ground lamb mixture (from 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons) to bring a little more heat to the final product.
This recipe was a revelation. A perfect balance of hot, savory, mild and creamy. Using the sambal oelek to contrast the lamb flavor to me was a stroke of genius that brought that ‘wow’ factor to this dish. There was just enough to let you know it was there, not enough to overpower the lamb. The headnote says you can use other ground meat but I found lamb to be the perfect complement. As I was cooking everything, I wanted to eat it right out of the pan and not wait to make the patties and then cook them too. It smelled so good in my house.
But I am glad I did wait – even though it seemed like forever. Wrapping that savory, spicy mix into a potato wrapper then cooking them to get a nice crispy crust took these lamb “chops” to a higher plane. Even though I wanted to eat the meat right out of the pan, all these components were 100 percent better when combined. I wasn’t sure mashing potatoes with just salt would produce a smooth enough mashed potato but I was wrong. They came out fine, even with no butter!
As for the recipe, while it wasn’t exactly complicated, it was time consuming. For me it was a good two hours from start to finish. The note that you can make components ahead of time was a good one. I found it hard to distinguish between what was hands-on time and what wasn’t. I’m not good at waiting for things to cool before moving to the next step but this recipe was structured in a way that made that easy (except for the potatoes but you have no choice since they come right out of a boiling pot).
One step I would add would be to drain or otherwise get the fat out of the pan before adding the sambal oelek. I had a good quarter cup and was glad I drained it. Already thinking about making them again – this time with homemade sambal oelek! The timing on cooking the patties was about right. I got more like five servings. Served them with grilled broccoli and a pinot noir.
This recipe takes a bit of work but it is well worth it. The lamb is extremely flavorful and requires only a handful of ingredients. It paired well with the mashed potatoes as they both balance each other out. Most importantly, all this is packaged in a satisfying crunch from the breadcrumbs. I recommend using the panko variety to maximize crunch.
It does take a bit of patience with the steps to cook the lamb and potatoes, form the patties, coat them in breadcrumbs, and finally shallow frying them. However, your efforts are greatly rewarded. These make great appetizers or as an entrée when paired with a salad.
I’ve had a jar of sambal oelek in my fridge for the past year, which I spotted again after a recent fridge clean out. I found the spice level in this recipe pretty nice, but I would have added another half tablespoon. On its own, the spiciness of the lamb was delicious, but once combined with the mashed potatoes, I wished it was spicier.
I used ground lamb and apple cider vinegar, although I would like to try coconut vinegar next time. I used two potatoes that each weighed a pound.
I made everything on the same day. I made the patties a bit larger than the recipe asked, closer to 3 inches in diameter, so I only was able to make 10 patties. I think if I had made them the correct size, it would have made closer to 13 or 14. I paired this with some sautéed spinach and a farro salad. As I made it, it served 5.
This recipe started as a huge success! I didn’t have sambal oelek but I did have limes and a selection of hot peppers from my garden. Once I had the sauce and my mise en place, the recipe just flowed and my kitchen filled with wonderful aromas.
I had planned these “chops” for lunch but due to unforeseen reasons, I couldn’t finish them until dinner. I was thankful that the recipe allowed for the initial meat and potato preparation to be refrigerated. As it was, post refrigeration, the potato rebelled and the patty assembly was tricky. I decided to get creative and leave some of the lamb filling exposed and just breaded to prevent cracks in the potato. My patties made it through the egg wash and breading only to perish in the pan. They either cracked or made it through frying on one side just to break upon turning. In the end, of my 8 patties, only one did not succumb. Frankly, though, I do not believe this was a recipe flaw. Perhaps the make-ahead part was ill-advised. Perhaps the recipe meant refrigerating the assembled patties before breading and frying. I do know that ricing or mashing cold potatoes would result in gummy or lumpy potatoes and that’s why I refrigerated after mashing.
The “moral” of this “chop” was that deliciousness need not be cutesy. We shared the only successful looking “chop” as an appetizer, then served the disaster ones as a very very rustic Shepard’s pie with green salad and more of the really, really delicious sambal oelek!
Originally published January 24, 2021