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Potato balls ragout

Variations of this recipe appear in a number of popular recipe books of the 19th century

Variations of this recipe for ‘potato balls ragout’ appear in a number of popular nineteenth-century recipe books

Potato balls ragout

Are made by adding to a pound of potatoes a quarter of a pound of grated ham, some chopped parsley, and onion or shallots, salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg with the yolk of a couple of eggs. Then make them in balls and fry them in dripping.

This tasty side dish did the tour of several 19th century cookbooks, including William Kitchiner’s Cook’s Oracle (first published 1817) and Christian Isobel Johnstone’s Cook and Housewife’s Manual (1826), which was published under the pseudonym Margaret Dods.

Our cookbook authors have made a small omission in transcribing this recipe. Once the mashed potato has been mixed with the ham, onion and herbs and rolled into balls, Kitchiner says that they can either be fried just as they are, or after being coated in breadcrumbs.

Johnstone suggests these little potato balls as an accompaniment to fish pie, but adds that they can also be enjoyed on their own. As a cross between French potato croquettes and Spanish ham croquetas, this popular 19th century fare wouldn’t look out of place on a modern dining table either!

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