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Pear-shaped potato croquettes

1 egg

1 cup fine, plain bread crumbs

3 cups cold mashed potatoes, divided (see note)

1-2 strands uncooked angel hair spaghetti or regular spaghetti

6 dried bay leaves

Vegetable oil, for frying

Makes 6 servings

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees if baking the croquettes. (Alternatively, you can use a deep fryer to cook them.)

Lightly beat the egg in a shallow dish. Set aside. Pour the bread crumbs onto a plate. Set aside.

Using an ice cream scoop or a piping bag with a wide tip, divide the mashed potatoes into 6 mounds about 1/2 cup each.

Roll a mound between your palms to mold it into a pear shape. Coat the molded potato in the beaten egg, then bread crumbs. Place upright onto a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mounds of mashed potatoes.

If baking, cook the potato croquettes in the oven until bread crumbs are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

If deep frying, heat oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees. (Test the temperature with a deep-fry thermometer.)

Place 2 or 3 croquettes into the oil and cook until bread crumbs are golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Repeat with remaining croquettes.

Transfer croquettes to a serving platter. Break off 6 pieces from a spaghetti strand. (Each should be a little longer than a pear stem.) Insert a spaghetti strand into the top of a croquette to mimic a pear stem. Then insert a bay leaf into the top of the croquette to mimic a leaf on a pear.

Repeat with remaining croquettes, then serve immediately.

Note: This is a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes made the previous day. For best results, use starchy potatoes such as Russets and make sure the potatoes are well seasoned. Be sure not to use runny mashed potatoes for this recipe; the croquettes won't hold their shape if the potatoes aren't stiff.