Saturday, March 15, 2014

Maltese Pulpetti (Corned Beef Croquettes)

With St. Patrick's Day coming up, I couldn't help but want to make these Maltese croquettes, called pulpetti, since they feature corned beef. 

The first time I ever had corned beef pulpetti was as a teenager. We had arrived at Nanna's house late at night, tired from our 4-hour journey. It was gross and rainy outside, making her kitchen seem warmer and cozier than usual. Nanna was busily alternating between forming little patties and then frying them gently in her electric griddle. We all gathered around Nanna as she worked, devouring the little potato and meat cakes as soon as they came out of the fryer. Nannu was on the couch, snoring by then, as the TV droned on in the background, but the rest of us continued to eat right where we stood, relieved to not be cooped up in the car and happy to be together again with good food warming our bellies.

I don't think I had ever had a croquette of any kind before this, but I instantly fell in love. What's not to love when you fry mashed potatoes though? Besides corned beef, pulpetti is often made with tuna, ground beef, or ground pork. Sometimes diced hard boiled eggs are included as well. I've seen some recipes call for breadcrumbs or a combination of milk and bread instead of the potatoes. Pulpetti is one of those dishes that you can easily adapt based on what you have available in your pantry and your own personal preferences; however, I'm sure every Maltese family has their own favorite way to make them, most likely the way their Nanna did.

Below is how my Nanna made her corned beef pulpetti. Enjoy!

Maltese Pulpetti (Corned Beef Croquettes)
Adapted from Nanna

Pulpetti can be made with many other kinds of meat if you're not a fan of corned beef. Some traditional alternatives: tuna, ground pork, ground beef, and hard boiled eggs.

Yield: 24 medium (1 1/2 inches) sized patties

Total Time: 1 hour

3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 4 cups)
1 medium onion, grated or finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
2-3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 12-ounce can of corned beef
1/2 cup Semolina flour or seasoned bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and place them in a large work bowl. Mash the potatoes; add onions, garlic, cheese, eggs, pepper, and parsley; stir to combine. Work in the corned beef until well incorporated. Shape into balls and flatten slightly into round patties. Roll in semolina flour.

Place a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Add a small amount of vegetable oil, enough to coat the bottom. Once the oil is hot, work in small batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. Allow the patties to fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown. Handle the patties carefully, as they are delicate. Allow patties to drain on paper towels before transferring to a serving platter.

Serve hot with marinara sauce for dipping.

Leftovers can be crisped in a hot oven. 


  1. Ooo. I've never had pulpetti, but my first exposure to croquettes were Japanese curry potato korokke.

    1. I think you'd really like them! Justin said that Nanna made a tomato-based dipping sauce with peas and curry. I thought adding peas and curry might be a fun twist to the actual pulpetti!

  2. Absolutely delicious. I didn't add corned beef but still very good!

    1. Thanks Andrea! I'm so glad you enjoyed them. It's such a versatile recipe -- glad to hear they taste delicious without any meat at all. :)