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Spicy Beef-Stuffed Potato Pancakes with Minty Yogurt

Pugliese cooks make delicious “pizze” using boiled potatoes and flour for the crust; similar to gnocchi dough, the potato dough is moist and supple and lends itself beautifully to various toppings, most commonly tomatoes, Mozzarella, and herbs.

A few weeks ago, I found myself with some leftover boiled potatoes and raw beef chuck, so I decided to try the Pugliese potato dough to encase a spicy beef filling. I shaped the mixture into small pancakes, and after a brief bake in a hot oven, the pancakes were golden and lightly crisp on the outside, moist and flavorful on the inside. At first glance, my husband thought the pancakes looked like chocolate chip cookies, so he was quite surprised when they appeared on his plate for lunch!

Don’t be put off by the long ingredient list; the recipe comes together easily and quickly, and the pancakes can be shaped up to 12 hours ahead and refrigerated until ready to pop in the oven.

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as an appetizer


For the potato dough:

  • 3/4 pound Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for the counter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground

For the beef filling:

  • 1/4 pound ground beef chuck (80% lean)
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane
  • 1 small yellow onion, grated on the coarse side of a box grater
  • 2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

For the yogurt sauce:

  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

To cook:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Make the potato dough: Place the potatoes in a 4-quart pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, peel, pass through a ricer onto a counter, and cool to room temperature. Add the flour, salt, pepper, and fennel seeds, and gather the ingredients until they come together into a dough. Do not overwork the dough or it will get sticky and require additional flour. Shape into a ball, roll into a log, and cut into 16 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. Set on a lightly floured counter, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside. (The dough will start to stick it is left on the counter too long, so it is essential that you flour the counter under the balls of dough.)

Make the beef filling: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Mash well with your hands to combine; cook a tiny bit of filling to check for seasoning, and adjust as needed. Divide the filling into 16 equal mounds on a plate.

Make the yogurt sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl; refrigerate until needed.

To cook: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Oil the parchment with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

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Take one ball of dough and cup it in one hand. Place a mound of beef filling in the middle of the dough. Press down with your free hand and then gather the dough up and over the filling to enclose. Flatten gently between the palms of your hands and place on the oiled parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Brush the tops of the pancakes with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (preferably set on convection bake). Bake the pancakes 12 minutes; remove from the oven and flip them over. Return them to the oven and bake another 12 minutes, or until golden on top and just starting to get a bit crisp. Serve hot, with the yogurt sauce.

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