Potato Flakes as a Gluten-Free Substitute
A traditional dish like meatloaf or meatballs usually calls for breadcrumbs mixed with milk to help create moisture and binding. The breadcrumbs help keep the meat proteins from shrinking too much and becoming tough. They literally create pockets of space that happen to also be tender and soft. Well, with gluten-free bread that is made of rice or some other grain, it just doesn’t benefit the meatball like wheat bread does. Gluten-free bread is much denser and usually drier and contains much more starch than wheat bread.
So what if you just ditch the breadcrumbs all together?
The idea to use potato flakes instead of breadcrumbs came from America’s Test Kitchen. Their book “The How Can It Be Gluten-Free Cookbook” is full of recipes and tips including how to make a tender meatloaf or meatball. Read the testing process they went through on page 146. Ever since I tried their recipe, I never use breadcrumbs in meatballs.
Look for plain dried potato flakes, usually in a box near the rice at the store. I tend to use Bob’s Red Mill Potato Flakes as I can find them at my local store and I know they have no other ingredients. And you can see how big the flakes are in the bowl above.
See Potato Flakes in Action
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What about other recipes
I also tested out using potato flakes in other things like fish cakes and veggie fritters. Here is a recipe for Salmon Cakes where I use dried potato flakes to help with the binding. I think fish cakes of all kinds can taste great with a little baked potato added. Instead of baking a potato for these, I used those flakes that I already have in my pantry. They are a quick and easy solution especially for a salmon cake where you don’t need too much.
And if you are going to have potato flakes in your pantry, you can search for other ways to use it, including breading fried chicken! Even Food and Wine has some recipes showcasing potato flakes as a breading like in this recipe for Potato-Crusted Cod with Parsley Vinaigrette.
Other uses for your instant mashed potatoes in your pantry:
Instantly thicken soups and stew: Skip the cornstarch slurry and stir in a spoonful of instant potato flakes instead. Add just a teaspoon or so at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
Crispy crust for chicken and fish: For a ridiculously crispy oven-baked coating on chicken, fish, or pork, instant potato flakes are your best friend. This Oven-Fried Chicken recipe from Pillsbury uses potato flakes only and no flour to create the crust. You can also add some potato flakes into your flour when doing an egg and flour dredge for proteins.
Create Tender Bread: Add 1-2 tablespoons of potato flakes for every 1 cup of flour in your bread recipes.
And you can actually make quick mashed potatoes if you forgot to pick up some Russets at the grocery store.
As you can see, there are just so many reasons why every gluten-free household needs a box of potato flakes!
Happy allergy-free cooking,
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