Saturday, September 25, 2010

Potato Pancakes

What defines "Comfort Food" to you?  For me, they are the dishes that my mom, grandma Babchi or my Auntie MaryAnn made.  These amazing homecooks always incorporating our ethnic cuisine into traditional American meals.  My heritage is German, with a bit of Ukrainian and Polish mixed in.  Maybe I am a little biased, but boy does this part of the world know how to cook!

One of my absolute most favorite side dishes of my childhood are potato pancakes.  While I was in college and would frequent a wonderful Jewish Deli, I discovered these are also known as latkes- a term I had never heard before.  Oh was I a happy girl when I found I could get a little taste of home whenever a touch of homesickness kicked in.  Whenever I see potato pancakes on the menu at restaurants I always have to try them.  Sometimes they are wonderful; crunchy, creamy inside a with even a touch of sweetness.  Other times they just taste and look more like either an onion flavored hash brown or even worse, an actual pancake with shredded potato mixed in the batter.

This is my mom's recipe, and the other night it was the first time I ever attempted making them on my own.  You know when you think back to a favorite recipe; you have a very specific memory of the way it should smell and taste.  While frying up these guys I was so nervous that they wouldn't come out like my Mom's.  But guess what- they were perfect.  Now I am kicking myself for waiting this long to make them!

Potato Pancakes
4 large russet potatoes, peeled
1 small white onion, finely grated
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon coarse salt
vegetable oil for frying

Grate the potatoes into a large bowl of cold water (the water helps keep the potatoes from oxidizing). Drain potatoes well, squeezing with paper towels or cheese cloth, removing as much liquid as possible. Add grated onion, eggs, flour, and salt and combine well.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line an oven safe plate with paper towels and set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, heat a half and inch of oil until hot. Place 1/4 cup of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick patties. Be careful not to let the pancakes run into each other. Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other. Let drain and keep warm in oven on prepared paper towel lined plate.

Serve warm with applesauce, jelly, sour cream or my personal favorite, sprinkled with sugar. Scott loves them with ketchup, just proves how everyone has their own favorite topping!

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