Glasgow is pretty similar to Naples when you think about it. The similarities are mostly in the cities’ reputations (undeservedly bad), inhabitants (incomprehensible to most) and most importantly, of course, food (delicious but unorthodox).
A few years ago I was in Naples, and I noticed that Neapolitan cuisine is actually not all that different from Scottish cuisine, in the sense that everything is deep-fried. In Glasgow we think we’re so unique, battering and then deep-frying our pizzas, sausages, haggis and everything (except Mars bars, contrary to popular belief), but I realised in Naples that we’re not the only ones with his queer habit. Down there I found deep-fried pizza, but also deep-fried meatballs filled with peas and coated with mash, deep-fried donuts-type thingies, deep-fried green peppers, deep-fried you-name-it, really!
Naples and Glasgow also seem to share a love of mashed potatoes. We express ours by serving meat with mashed potatoes, whilst the Neapolitans go as far as just serving mashed potatoes, with meat. I recently got to know gattò di patate, a Neapolitan dish (or so I’ve been told – it might also just be generally Southern) that consists of a massive bunch of mashed potatoes with lots of cheese and ham mixed in, and some eggs. My flatmate sometimes makes it and it’s good. It makes me happy. It makes me feel like I can take on winter.
I had a little google around to see what other versions of the dish I could find, and some of the things I found looked quite fancy. I decided to have a shot at a nice looking version and it came out really well! It was also delicious so I think you should all make some. If you can’t be bothered with making the fancy looking one, you can also just make it like my flatmate does – in an oven dish, no hassle. Then, rather than cutting it, you can scoop it out with a spoon. Either way, it’s delicious. Gattò di patate, let’s have a try.
For a reasonably sized gattò that can feed about 5 people (or 2 for 2 days – it’s even better after a night in the fridge), you will need:
- 2 kg of potatoes
- 6 eggs
- 3 balls of mozzarella
- 200 gr of scamorza – this is a smoked cheese, if you have trouble finding some where you stay, you can use another kind of smoked cheese.
- 200gr of smoked or roast ham – the pink type, prosciutto cotto
- a cup of breadcrumbs – I mean like a teacup full, I don’t know the weight.
- half a teacup of parmesan
- enough butter to grease the tin and to make the mash, if you use butter for that
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water, then make mash of them like you normally do. Boil and peel 3 of the eggs.
Grab a spring-form tin or something similar (but preferably something round and easy to flip at the end), grease it with butter and then sprinkle the whole thing with two thirds of your breadcrumbs, making sure it’s all covered. Cut up two thirds of the scamorza (or whatever other smoked cheese you’re using), two of the balls of the mozzarella, and two thirds of the ham, then mix the chunks up with the mash. Beat the remaining 3 eggs and quickly stir them through the mash mixture. Taste for salt.
When you’re happy with the mash, put half the mixture in the cake tin and press down with your hands. Then slice the rest of the cheese and the ham up into slices, scatter them over the mash, put the three boiled eggs on the mash as well. You could halve them first, so you can spread them out more evenly, but it’ll look less pretty. Press them down lightly, then cover the whole bunch with the rest of the mash. Now mix the remaining breadcrumbs with the parmesan and scatter this over the top.
Put it in the oven and leave it there for about 40 minutes. Take it out and leave it to rest for a few minutes. Then flip it carefully and cut it like you’d cut a cake.