Bulgarian Patatnik...Shredded Potato and Cheese Pie with Mint. I've been harvesting a few things from my garden this year... it wasn't a great year, but I am always thankful for what I can harvest. I know quite well how it is during wintertime... when I don't have fresh herbs at my fingertips, when I don't have fresh chives and green onions, when raspberries are mainly the frozen kind, and when vegetables are, well, not the best.
~~~~Here's a glimpse of a few things that grew in my garden this year...some of my tomatoes actually turned red on the vine this time around...normally the frost comes and I pick the green tomatoes and place them in the house to ripen.~~~~~~
~~~Potatoes normally do well...as well as herbs. The raspberries usually don't get a chance to ripen... this year I managed to get quite a bit more than previous years. ~~~
~~~~I still managed to get a few potatoes even after struggling with garden slugs...so you can imagine that I wanted to make a dish that would make good use of them.... without adding too many ingredients that would take away from their flavor. ~~~~~
So when Veronika, from Ginger Cookies posted her version of the Bulgarian Patatnik, I knew exactly how my potatoes were going to be used! I just loved her presentation... and I always enjoy visiting Veronika's site. I am simply amazed with her talent... and beautiful recipes. Even though her site is in Bulgarian, you'll enjoy it...and maybe even get inspired to try a recipe or two:).
While the original patatnik is simply made out of shredded potatoes, cheese, eggs and mint, this version wraps the filling in a few phyllo sheets, making it quite elegant and different. You can opt to leave the phyllo sheets out, if you want... especially if you want a gluten-free version. It will just resemble a thick hashbrown-like pancake...for lack of a better word.
Some versions of the patatnik add a bit of dried savory...or even thyme. I added a tiny amount of savory to mine...just because I had some dried savory on hand. But the combination of potato, feta, and mint was new to me... oh, I've had feta and mint, but never in combination with potatoes. And that's what made this dish for me. I loved the freshness of the mint, the salty feta, and the earthy potatoes...all wrapped up in a crispy phyllo shell.
The patatnik can be a delicious main meal or it can be used as a side dish. While I made the dish on the stovetop, it can easily be made in the oven just as well....and you won't need to flip it. Really liked this dish...it was new and different... and the potatoes were the star. Hope you enjoy...
Note: I ended up placing the potato filling in the phyllo-dough covered skillet... and didn't cook it right away...the phyllo dough got wet and that's why the phyllo sheets aren't seen as distinct layers. So I suggest to cook it straightaway:).
While I put down a cooking time for the patatnik, I suggest cooking it until you feel it's cooked through. I have an electric stovetop... and sometimes things cook a bit faster than on a gas stovetop.
Tip: If you want, you can cook the patatnik in the oven...350-375 deg for 20 minutes (or until cooked through)...
You can also make 2 smaller versions of the patatnik ...using smaller skillets... this way, it will also be easier to flip over.
The amount of cheese is to taste..so use more or less...same goes for the mint.
You will need: adapted from Ginger Cookies
800 grams russet potatoes(or 2-3 ex-large russets)
2 onions, diced ( I used 1 ex-large onion)
1 cup grated feta cheese(lightly packed), or to taste
1 tsp dried mint or 1 TBS fresh, or to taste
1/4-1/2 tsp dried savory, optional
6 phyllo dough sheets, buttered
butter or oil, as needed
salt and pepper to taste
1. Dice onions and set aside. Grate potatoes...I placed mine in a bit of water ... as I noticed they were turning a bit brown(oxidizing) on me. This will remove some of the potato starch as well... making the shredded potatoes not clump up too much.
2. Heat a 10-12 inch (or so)skillet and add 1- 2 TBS oil( or butter) allow to heat up and then add the onions. Cook until soft about 5 minutes. Add the shredded potatoes, stir to combine.
3. Cook potatoes and onion for a couple more minutes or until the potatoes soften a bit. You definitely don't want to cook them completely. This step just helps with the potatoes not being undercooked in the final stage. Remove and place in a large bowl. Allow to cool slightly before adding the rest of the ingredients.
4. Grate feta cheese( or use crumbled) and add the eggs. Mix to combine.
5. Add the feta/egg mixture to the potato/onion mixture. Sprinkle with mint and savory(if using) and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir to combine. You probably won't need to add too much salt as the feta cheese is salty enough.
6. Using a buttered non-stick skillet, place 4 buttered phyllo sheets on the bottom( you can layer one sheet, butter, layer another sheet, butter and so forth). Spread the potato mixture on top of the phyllo sheets and fold in the edges to encase the filling. Butter and layer the 2 remaining phyllo sheets and place on top of the filling ... overlap and tuck in the ends.... to completely cover the whole patatnik..
7. Cook on med/low heat for 10 minutes(or so) covered with a lid...check underneath to see if it has picked up a bit of golden color before flipping it on the second side. Lower the heat to low if it is browning too quickly....you don't want it to burn. The phyllo can burn quickly... especially if the heat is on too high.
8. Flip the patatnik on the second side using a large enough plate that covers the entire skillet....DO be careful as you do this(use oven mitts if needed)... the pancake and skillet can be quite heavy.
9. Cook uncovered for an additional 10 minutes or so or until cooked through...if you noticed the top getting soft and not crispy, opt to flip it again and cook for an additional minute or so... or until it crisps up again.
10. Cut in wedges and serve hot.