Leftovers make great appetizers! As a single mom, I’m often making recipes portioned for bigger families–that means I have leftovers often, but not necessarily enough for a whole meal. I’m always looking for a creative way to use up the odds and ends from my fridge, and appetizers are kind of perfect for that. For this dish, I used leftover cooked salmon, prepared mashed potatoes and sautéed leeks to make fancied up croquettes. If you’ve only had salmon patties with canned salmon, you’re in for a treat!
These croquettes will work with any flaked white fish as well. The secret to a good crispy breading that won’t fall apart is to grind the panko crumbs finely before coating the patties, along with a brief rest in the fridge to let them firm up. Because you’re using leftovers that were most likely pre-seasoned, taste and adjust with additional seasoning as you go. If you don’t need the croquettes right away, prep and freeze* them so they’re ready to fry up at a moment’s notice. That way, leftovers won’t go to waste and the croquettes will taste just like you made them that day.
Prep Time: 30 mins | Total Time: 60 mins | Serves 4-6
½ cup diced leeks (stalk only)
2 tablespoons butter
Lawry's Garlic Salt, to taste
Cracked black pepper, to taste
1 cup leftover mashed potatoes
4 oz. goat cheese, softened at room temp (substitute cream cheese for a milder flavor)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 lb. cooked salmon, skin discarded and flesh flaked into small pieces**
1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1 cup seasoned panko bread crumbs, finely ground
Peanut oil for frying (or canola oil if your child has a nut allergy)
Tartar sauce, to dip (optional)
Here's how I prepare the salmon for this recipe, in case you don't have leftovers.
Arrange salmon fillets on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Season with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and drizzle with olive oil. Roast at 325°F for 15 to 20 minutes, or until flesh is opaque and flakes easily. Let cool completely before using and discard any skin.
Before using your leek, split leek in half lengthwise and rinse between the layers with cool water to get rid of any dirt. After cleaning, chop the white and light green sections of the leek, discarding the tip of root and dark green leaves (save those in your freezer for future soup stocks!).
In a small skillet, melt butter over medium. Add chopped leeks to skillet and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of Lawry’s Garlic Salt and a crank of black pepper. Turn off the heat and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine mashed potatoes, goat cheese, lemon zest, basil and cayenne. Stir in the cooked leeks. Fold the salmon into the potato mixture. Season the filling to taste with Garlic Salt and black pepper, if needed. Stir in 1 beaten egg.
On a parchment-lined baking sheet, drop the salmon filling into 12 evenly-sized mounds. Form into ½” thick patties. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes or until firm.
As it chills, set up your breading “station” with three bowls. In the first, season the flour with 1 teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. In the next bowl, beat the 2 remaining eggs until frothy. In the third bowl, add the seasoned panko breadcrumbs (pulse them in a food processor or blender until finely ground.)
One by one, dredge each patty in the seasoned flour and shake off excess. Dip the floured salmon patty in the egg wash, allowing excess egg to drip off. Finally, press the patty into the panko crumbs to coat all sides evenly. (It helps to use a separate fork in each bowl to move the salmon patties around and avoid getting your hands too messy.)
Return salmon patties to a baking sheet lined with fresh parchment paper. Chill another 15 minutes or until firm.
Meanwhile, preheat your deep fryer or fill a Dutch oven with two inches of peanut oil (or canola if using). Heat oil to 350°F. Work in batches with a few croquettes at once so as not to crowd the pot or fryer. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes until golden brown, flipping once.
Drain fried croquettes on paper towels. Season each batch with a light pinch of Seasoned Salt as they come out of the fryer. Serve croquettes with lemon slices and tartar sauce, if desired.
*MOM TIP #1: Planning to cook these another day? Freeze croquettes until solid and transfer them to a freezer-safe storage bag, stacked between layers of parchment paper. Store for up to 2 months. There’s no need to thaw before frying, however, you may need to increase the cook time by a minute or two.
**MOM TIP #2: If you don’t already have cooked salmon filets, you can substitute smoked salmon (make sure to purchase “hot” smoked salmon, not “cold”).