Sunday, October 2, 2011

Holy Latke Batman!

About a week ago, I faced a dilemma: I needed a starch for dinner, but I had just two potatoes, not enough for mashed or baked potatoes. It was also not enough for a rather complicated big potato pancake recipe I've been making for a number of years.

Time to think fast. Why not try traditional potato pancakes, aka Latkes? I'd never made them before.  I consulted a couple of cookbooks, and they looked amazingly easy and quick. Just shred some potatoes and onion, add breadcrumbs, an egg and salt and pepper and fry in a pan with thin sheen of oil.

It was as easy and quick as it sounded. In about 20 to 25 minutes, I had golden brown potato pancakes on the plate. They were heavenly, better than the big potato Frisbee that I've been laboring to make for years. I especially love the crunch and caramelization from a good roasting on each side. Very, very tasty.

Like so many great dishes, simple and delicious.

I've made them several times since, each time adjusting and each time they come out a little tastier. Here's my recipe:

Heat a large pan to medium high (I put it to 7 on electric range) with a thin film of oil (I use canola).

Shred two to three russet potatoes with a box grater (you can use a food processor, but it's nearly as fast and there's less cleanup with a box grater). Put the shredded potato in a colander and press, squeezing out as much liquid as possible.

Put the shredded potato in a large bowl and shred a onion. We prefer less onion, so I use a small or half a medium. Make this to taste.

Add about 2 tablespoons bread crumbs, preferably homemade, an egg and salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.

 Check oil with a piece of potato. If it sizzles, the pan is ready. Collect half a cup of the mixture (you can make them any size) and drop into the hot pan, pressing down to flatten somewhat. Cook about six to 10 minutes on each side, rotating if necessary to assure even cooking and lowering temperature if they cook too fast.

As they finish, put on paper towels to drain. The pancakes stay hot for a good period of time, so I recommend against covering.

Latkes are traditionally eaten with applesauce. I have not tried it, but I can see how a little sweetness would enhance the flavor.

So the next time you need a quick starch. try potato pancakes. Tasty, delicious and rather fun to make.