Potato bird's nests - crispy, delicious and cute!
This crispy potato bird's nest recipe is a perfect spring side dish for Easter dinner. It is both on-theme for springtime and really delicious!
The biggest issue I ran into when developing this recipe was how to make potato bird's nests hold their shape and go crispy. And after many attempts, I discovered that the key ingredient in a crispy potato bird's nest is ghee, or clarified butter. We pan-fry grated potato as a rosti in the ghee before creating a bird's nest shape using a cupcake tray. They aren't too dense which gives them a wild, architectural look that is really reminiscent of bird's nests and twigs. The variety of potatoes to use in potato bird's nests is very important, they need to have a high starch content (sometimes referred to as 'floury' potatoes) so that they bind together as this potato bird's nest recipe has no egg or flour, or other binding agents. So this recipe is gluten free and egg free too.
I like to serve these crispy potato bird's nests at Easter with a roast dinner, which for us is usually lamb!
These Easter potato bird's nests also look especially cute with some shallot 'eggs' inside them, and for me, no roast dinner is complete without some caramelised shallots.
Potato bird's nests work really well as an Easter side dish, and if you're planning your Easter menu check out these canapes that work really well in springtime.
You only need four simple ingredients for this potato bird's nest recipe - and they come together fast too.
- Potato (a 'floury' variety like King Edward or Maris Piper)
- Ghee or clarified butter
See the recipe card for quantities.
Peel and grate your potatoes and shallot, ideally using an attachment that grates longer strips so that it gives us more room to create the potato bird's nest shape.
Season the raw grated potato and shallot with salt.
Heat the ghee or clarified butter in a frying pan and when it is hot and shimmering, add a small, loose handful of grated potato to the pan. We want the ghee hot enough to get a loud sizzle when the potato hits it. Test this first with a piece of grated potato and if it doesn't hiss at you, it isn't hot enough yet. If the ghee starts to smoke, it is too hot. Take care when cooking with hot oils!
Depending on the size of your pan you can add two or three at a time but be cautious of it bringing down the temperature of the ghee too much. Don't make them too thick or dense, as they won't crisp up. There should still be some gaps you can see the bottoms of the pan through.
Press down on the potato rosti with a spatula to flatten them, and once golden brown and crispy on one side, flip them over.
Once they are golden crispy on both sides, transfer immediately to a cupcake tray and press them gently into the mould using the end of a rolling pin to shape them into potato birds' nests. You shouldn't need to grease the cupcake tray, but you can.
Hint: This recipe tastes great with other spring side dishes like this truffle asparagus and broccoli puree.
Here are a few ways you can adapt this crispy potato nest recipe to suit you.
- Spicy - add chili pepper flakes to the grated potato to add a kick!
- Herbs - add some herbs like thyme or rosemary
- Other vegetables- try adding some grated carrot or parsnip
You will need the following equipment to make this easy recipe.
- Mixing bowl
- Frying pan
- Cupcake tray
- Rolling pin (or similar blunt object to help press the potato bird's nests into the cupcake tray whilst they are hot)
Store any leftovers in the cupcake tray and reheat in the oven when needed. Good for 2-3 days.
These ingredients don't stand up well to freezing.
The purpose of using ghee in recipes is to raise the smoke point (or flashpoint) of butter. Clarifying butter separates the milk solids from the water in the butter. Using ordinary butter in this potato bird's nest recipe will not achieve a crispy nest as the butter will burn before it gets hot enough, and therefore it will not hold its shape. So this is very important.
Easter Potato Bird's Nests
- 1 Vegetable grater or food processor grater attachment
- 1 large mixing bowl
- 1 Large frying pan
- 1 Cupcake tray
- 1 Rolling pin or another round, blunt object
- 300 grams Potatoes (must be floury variety)
- 1 Large shallot
- 3 tablespoon Ghee
- Peel and grate the potato and shallot
- Season the raw grated potato and shallot with salt.
- Heat half of the ghee or clarified butter in a frying pan and when it is hot and shimmering, add a small, loose handful of grated potato to the pan.
- Press down on the potato rosti with a spatula to flatten them, and once golden brown and crispy on one side, flip them over.
- Once they are golden crispy on both sides, transfer immediately to a cupcake tray and press them gently into the mould using the end of a rolling pin to shape them into potato birds' nests. You shouldn't need to grease the cupcake tray, but you can.
- Repeat each step, using more of the ghee as needed to ensure enough fat is in the frying pan.