Gattò Di Patate Is The Italian Potato Pie You Need To Know

Like chocolate and tomatoes, potatoes are native to the Americas but have since been artfully integrated into European cooking. The Italians may be known for their tomato-centric recipes like pizza and marinara sauce, but their expertise also encompasses the versatile potato. Gattò di patate is an Italian potato pie with multicultural beginnings.

Gattò is the Italian spelling of the French "gâteau," or pie, alluding to this delicious potato pie's French beginnings. According to IATE, the EU's terminology database, the dish dates back to 1768 Naples and the wedding of Neapolitan Archduchess Maria Carolina. For her wedding, the Neapolitan high court brought a troupe of French chefs, who introduced popular French dishes, including the gâteau. Inspired by the sweet French gâteau, Italians used local ingredients to create their own savory gattò di patate.

Composed of eggs, potatoes, butter, and cheese, gattò di patate lies somewhere between a frittata and a tortilla Española. Like the latter, potatoes are the main ingredient, but the dish is baked like a frittata. Instead of frying potatoes, the gattò di patate is a mashed potato pie enriched with butter, local Italian cheeses, and, often, cured meats. Eggs help the filling rise into a fluffy, ultra-rich consistency, while butter and a dusting of breadcrumbs provide a golden, crispy topping.

Once a decadent dish exclusive to nobility, gattò di patate is now enjoyed as a cozy comfort food served at dinner tables in Naples and the surrounding regions.

Ingredient variations and tips

Similar to lasagna, gattò di patate is a labor-intensive layered pie that Italians usually enjoy as a filling one-dish meal. However, instead of a rectangular casserole dish, it's usually baked inside a deep, round cake tin with a removable mold.

The layering starts with mashed potatoes blended with eggs, butter, seasonings, and optional parmesan cheese, followed by your choice of meltable Italian cheeses and cured meats. A second layer goes on top before finishing with a thin layer of mashed potatoes and breadcrumbs and popping the dish in the oven. Similar to a tortilla Española, the round pie is typically allowed to cool and served in triangular slices.

While every family could have a different recipe, the most common fillings include provolone, parmesan, romano, scamorza, and mozzarella cheese as well as Italian meats like salami, pepperoni, and mortadella.

However, you could always add different cold cuts, sauteed vegetables, or sliced olives to the melted cheese layer. Many recipes also add milk or heavy cream to the potatoes for a creamier consistency and flavor. Additionally, nutmeg, granulated garlic, and dried Italian herbs will also amp up this ultra-rich dish with spice and earthiness.