Vintage Recipe: Frugal Portland, Maine Duchess Potatoes

While the world is abuzz about the Duchess of Sussex “stepping back” from her royal duties (seriously, though, I didn’t see that coming and apparently neither did the Queen!) I’ve stepped back in time and from the fancification of Duchess potatoes with this simple, frugal 1915 recipe found inside a Portland, Maine elementary school book. All that is required to make these tasty little puffs are three ingredients plus salt and pepper for seasoning.

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I don’t recall where I picked up this antique Portland, Maine elementary school cooking lessons book but it’s among my favorites. I enjoy imagining kids learning to cook in school and then going home to help in the kitchen in an age before the introduction of pre-packaged convenience food.

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As I’ve written before, potatoes are a staple here in Maine as well as in my kitchen. If you are of the belief that potatoes are unhealthy or fattening please read Be a Rebel, Eat a Potato!

Many of today’s recipes for Duchess potatoes call for heavy cream but this old-fashioned version uses no added cream or milk.


1-ish pounds boiled and peeled potatoes, still warm but not hot

2 tbsp butter

3 egg yolks (No need to discard the whites! Place them in the refrigerator in a small food storage container, then add them to an omelette or make a Frittata to serve with the potatoes within a couple of days. That’s dinner for us tonight.)

Salt and pepper if desired


Rice the potatoes in a bowl.

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Add the butter, salt and pepper to the potatoes, then the beaten egg yolks, but reserve a very small amount to save for brushing the potatoes. Mix all the ingredients until they are well blended.

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In addition to not needing any cream or milk, this recipe doesn’t require the use of a pastry bag (which I don’t own and so many these days are disposable, boo) for a showy presentation. Instead the recipe states we can shape into balls or cones. (Were Duchesses less demanding in 1915?) I decided to use a biscuit cutter and spooned the potatoes into it for each to give a little nod to glam. I added 1 tbsp water to the remaining egg yolks and brushed the tops of each before baking them in a 425 degree oven for twenty minutes.

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They’re great as a side dish or snack. We had some last night with chicken and enjoyed their elegant simplicity. I really like that they can be made ahead of time and reheated later. Now I want the rest I made yesterday but I need to save them for tonight. Next time I’ll double the recipe!


6 thoughts on “Vintage Recipe: Frugal Portland, Maine Duchess Potatoes

  1. They started cooking lessons in elementary schools? Can you imagine an eight year old making this recipe let alone a teen?
    It lookers yummy!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh sweet! I’m impressed, but we just read a story where our uncle was shot by his neighbor over a land dispute in 1922 so I’m ambivalent about actually returning to that era. Maybe all these awesome books were for taming people back then. (Oh, he lived. Just in case you were curious.)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll go you one better…by a quirk of my dad’s career, I started my education at a British girls’ public school. Among the usual courses, the school taught fine needlework at an early age. Imagine my parents’ concern when their six-year-old daughter’s report card read that she was “careless with her needle”.

    Liked by 1 person

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