My favorite meal—truly, madly, embarrassingly—is cold potato salad eaten directly from the Tupperware with my fingers, usually in one of those it’s-11p.m.-and-I’m-gazing-into-the-fridge-as-though-it-contains-my-future moments. The thought of it is enough to convince me to make a heap more potato salad than the circumstance requires. I dare you to find anything steadier or more comforting.
A cold, oily potato needs little further embellishment, but if you find you’ve got more than you can reasonably put away in your peckish, late-night moments, leftover potato salad can quickly become a breakfast worth sitting down to (with a fork, even!). I’m talking about crispy-creamy potato fritters, formed into tidy cakes, rolled in panko breadcrumbs, and browned lightly in a pan with a little oil.
If you are an oil-and-vinegar potato salad person like myself, you may need to add 1 beaten egg to help bind every 2 cups of potato salad you have. If you and your potato salad leans more mayonnaise-y, you may not need to add anything to bind it.
Mash the potatoes very lightly—some chunks are good!—with a fork, a potato masher, or your hands, and scoop up a small handful of the mash to see if you can form it into a contained meatball shape. If it seems too wet, add a small amount of breadcrumbs directly to the mash and stir well to combine. If it’s too dry and falls apart when you try to form the cakes, add a splash of milk or an egg. Taste for salt and pepper. If it seems contained and not too wet and you can flatten it, go ahead and roll it in a dish of panko breadcrumbs and set it aside. You can do all this (everything but the forming) the night before you plan to eat, if you like
When it’s time for breakfast, add a slick of oil to a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the panko-breaded potato cake and fry until the underside is crisp and golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Flip and brown the other side as well. You can also do this in a 400°F oven, on a sheet pan preheated in the oven while it warms. Carefully pull the hot sheet pan out, drizzle with about 4 tablespoons of olive oil, then add the potato cakes. Cook about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Serve right away, with a fried egg on the side.