Gratto’- Potatoes Cake  

(“Torta di Patate – Gratto’ a Palermitana”) 

The following recipe for this potato baked specialty is the classic potatoes gratto’ made in Palermo and with some variances all over Sicily. A similar potato cake made in Naples called gatto’ makes abundant use of local cheeses and a mixture of cold cuts. Gratto' or Gatto' in a contraction of Gateaoux.

My mother made the gratto’ di patate, as for the following recipe except for the stuffing that did not required any preparation. And in fact she prepared a stuffing made of Mortadella cut into small cubes, thin slices of salami and diced soft cheese with a combination of any left over meat, cold cuts, or vegetables. It was delicious! 

Excluding the breadcrumbs, the gratto’ was without fail prepared for Saint Lucy. On that occasion, usually the rich meat stuffing version was baked to substitute the pasta or to serve instead of bread with the main course. 

This recipe is presented to give you an idea on how to make a Potato Gateaux, however feel free to use your fantasy and make your personal version of the gratto’ or the gatto’.  

 

Serves 8 to 10 

 

Ingredients 

The Stuffing 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil  
  • 1 medium onion, diced 
  • ½ lb. chopped meat (veal is preferred) 
  • 3 full tablespoons of tomato paste 
  • ¼ cup of white wine. 
  • Few basil leaves, chopped 
  • 5 oz. frozen peas (boiled in salted water for 5 minutes) 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 2 medium size eggplants, sliced the long way, skin on 
  • Oil for frying the eggplants 
  • 2 hard boiled eggs 

 

The Other Ingredients 

  • 2 ½ lb. potatoes 
  • ¼ cup parsley finely chopped 
  • salt and pepper  
  • 2 eggs  
  • ¼ lb. grated cheese 
  • 1 cup of milk if needed 
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • ½ lb. provolette cheese, cut into small cubes 
  • ½ lb. plain Italian breadcrumbs 

PREPARATION  

  • The Stuffing 

Prepare a day ahead. 

Over a medium flame heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 3 quart saucepan. 

Add diced onions and sauté until light golden, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add chopped meat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon.   

Add wine and reduce, about 3 minutes.  Dilute tomato paste with one cup of water, stir it into the meat, add additional water to cover chopped meat; add basil and salt and pepper to taste.  

Sauce should be a little watery.   

Bring to a boil and cook on a high heat for 2 minutes. Lower heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Add boiled peas and cook sauce for an additional 15 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed. 

Cool off and refrigerate. 

 

 

  • The Preparation 

In salted water, boil the potatoes with skin on, until tender. 

Fry the eggplants and drain on paper towels.  

Peel the potatoes and mash with a ricer.  

Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste, the 2 eggs lightly beaten, grated cheese and 1 tablespoon of oil. 

If too dry add some milk and blend it in well. 

Blend the ingredients, to obtain a homogenized mixture.  

Slice the hard boiled eggs. 

 

  • The Gratto’ 

 

Grease a 12” X3” round pan with 1 tablespoon of oil; dust pan with breadcrumbs, invert pan on a dish to remove excess crumbs. 

Place half of the mashed potatoes into the pan, layer with the eggplant, and cover with the meat sauce; place on top the sliced eggs and the diced cheese. Cover with the remaining potatoes and flatten the top; use a pastry brush to lightly wet the surface with the remaining 2 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle uniformly with some breadcrumbs. 

 

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until a crispy light brown crust forms on the top. 

Cool the gratto’ for a few minutes before serving from the pan. 

If you want to transfer into a platter, let it cool for at least 20 minutes before inverting the pan into the serving plate.