If you’ve never had the cheese and onion crisp bakes from Marks and Spencer, you are missing a trick. They’ve not paid me to write this, in fact they most likely have no clue who I am, but I must say, Mr Marks and Mr Spencer: good job on the crisp bakes (side note: they are both very definitely long dead, but my appreciation still stands).
If you live in a country that doesn’t have M&S, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about, so let me explain what exactly I mean by cheese and onion crisp bakes. They’re basically cheesy potato cakes that are breaded and cooked until they’re nice and crispy, and they are heaven on earth.
Cheese + potato + onion… there was no way that wasn’t going to be a winner.
I love to occasionally indulge in one of M&S’s finest, but since I apparently like to torture myself, I thought I’d have a go at making my own homemade cheese and onion crisp bakes too. It’s definitely not something I’ll do regularly, since it’s much more labour intensive than just opening a packet – but, it was a fun way to spend the morning nonetheless, and this recipe will hopefully bring the wonder that is a cheese and onion crisp bake to a few of you who may not have tried them before.
Let’s break it down a word at a time.
Cheese – you want to use something nice and melty to help stick everything together. A good old British mature cheddar is ideal.
Onion… well, that’s just onion.
Crisp – start by frying the crisp bakes quickly until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. This makes them nice and crispy, and adds loads of flavour (let’s face it, fried things taste great).
Bake – finish them off in the oven until they’re piping hot all the way through.
I only made six crisp bakes, but they were a little on the large side, and if I’m entirely honest, I did eat a fair amount of the cheesy mashed potato straight from the pan (stop judging me), so if you have a little more self-restraint I reckon you could easily stretch the mixture to make 8.
I made half of my crisp bakes with fancypants panko breadcrumbs, and half with plain old breadcrumbs that I bought in a tub, and to be entirely honest I didn’t notice much difference once they were cooked (my palate is obviously not refined enough) – so just use whatever you have on hand.
Then just dig in and enjoy the cheesy, creamy, oniony mash and crispy breadcrumbs…
I bloomin’ love a cheese and onion crisp bake.
- 900 g potatoes (~ 3 large potatoes)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 large onions, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 200 g cheddar cheese, grated (~ 2 2/3 cups when grated)
- Black pepper
- 50 g plain flour (~ 1/3 cup)
- 80 g panko breadcrumbs (~ 1 cup)
- 2 eggs
- Oil for frying
Wash the potatoes, and cut them into 2cm chunks (you can peel them first if you prefer; I didn't bother). Boil them in a large pan of water for around 10 minutes, or until soft.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook over a medium-low heat for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until very soft.
When the potatoes are soft, drain them and mash thoroughly. Add the cooked onions, grated cheese, and plenty of salt and pepper, and mix well until the cheese has melted. If you have time, allow to cool for half an hour (it makes the mash easier to shape, but don't worry if you don't have time).
To prepare for breading, place the flour in a wide bowl or deep plate, and do the same with the breadcrumbs in a separate dish. Lightly beat the eggs in a wide bowl.
Using your hands, shape around an eighth of the potato mixture into a patty, and coat it in the flour. Next, coat it in the beaten egg, shaking off any excess, then cover it in breadcrumbs. Place it on a plate or baking tray ready to be fried. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture.
Once you've breaded all of the potato mixture, coat the bottom of a frying pan with oil, and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot enough that it makes a breadcrumb sizzle, add the first batch of crisp bakes (I fried 3 at a time - don't overcrowd the pan). Cook for a few minutes until the underside is golden brown, then flip and repeat with the other side. Transfer to a lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining crisp bakes. The crisp bakes may expand a little while baking, so don't leave too much space between them.
When all of the crisp bakes have been fried on both sides, place in the oven and cook at 200°C (Gas Mark 6 / 400°F) for around 30 minutes, until piping hot and crispy.
Note: nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is based on 8 crisp bakes.