The ricotta and the eggs give this the cheesecake the texture we really like. Instead of using vanilla and sugar like in traditional cheesecake preparation, we use salami and the undisputed king of cheeses, Parmigiano-Reggiano. Grate the Parmigiano-Reggiano with a little vigor to bring out its sharp, fruity grittiness when mixing with the salami and parsley. The meat can be whatever you have diced up in the refrigerator. Spicy salami works just as well, which is what I used when I made this for Rachael Ray, a lady who loves a kick.
When dusting the bottom of your springform pan, you can also use what I like to call "fatboy breadcrumbs," left larger for a richer, crunchier, different texture. Breadcrumbs are super useful in breading, of course, but can also be added to dishes like pasta or salad, for a nutty flavor. Stale bread works as well as fresh, so be resourceful if you've got an older loaf lying around. Don't be timid with those pieces of butter on top either. They will create glistening hot spots, making those breadcrumbs even more crunchy and delicious.
POTATO AND SALAMI CHEESECAKE
SERVES: 8 ample servings
- 3 pounds waxy gold potatoes, such as Yukon Gold
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, toasted in a saute pan till light golden brown
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup fresh ricotta
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/2 pound (vegan) sweet Italian salami, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
- 4 ounces Asiago cheese, grated
Place the potatoes in a saucepan and add water to cover. Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes until tender, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, butter the bottom and sides of a 12-inch springform pan with 2 tablespoons of the butter and dust the bottom and sides with 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the milk and ricotta and mix; set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Drain and peel the potatoes and pass them through a food mill or ricer into a very large bowl. While the potatoes are still warm, use a large rubber spatula to fold in the Parmigiano, then add the salami and the parsley and stir just enough to evenly mix. Gently stir in the egg mixture; do not overstir, just bring it all together.
Place half of the potato mixture in the prepared pan and gently smooth it to the edges. Sprinkle the grated Asiago over the potato mixture to within 1/4 inch of the outer edge, but not over. Top with the remaining potato mixture and carefully smooth it over with a wet spatula. Sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes.
Unmold onto a serving plate and cut into wedges, like a cheesecake, to serve.