Thursday, March 11, 2010

You say potato, I say pancake

Potato pancakes- a Hanukkah staple. If you haven't tried one of these delightful devices, you have been sadly deprived. I'll attempt to describe them: Shredded potato and onion fried with egg and flour into a warm, crispy, fluffy circle or rectangle. They are a bit of work to make, but with a few decent tools and sound food science in your soul, you don't need to wait for winter to have potato pancakes. You need:
4 russet potatoes
1 small onion
1 large egg, beaten
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups of oil (canola, peanut, vegetable, whatever for frying)
Assemble your vegetation and cut into spreadable pieces. Peeling the potato is optional; most people don't even notice after being shredded.

Your trusty box grater comes out here. Get all the potatoes into wee bits, and then shred away. Lay the resulting pieces out on paper towels to drain excess liquid, and slice the onions very thin. If you have a V-slicer or mandolin with a matchstick setting, you're golden. If not, you'll need to slice them by hand. Thinking of shredding them like the potatoes? Think again. I tried, and they fell apart. Ogres are like onions. They have LAYERS. (bonus points on the test for identifying the movie reference here) DO NOT use one of these devices:

Why? They make rings rather than shreds. At least that's what mine did, but mine is older than dirt.

When your vegetation is suitably dried, mix in the flour, salt, and then eggs. At this point, you should have a 10" skillet on the stove, medium/high heat, obviously with the oil inside. There are a few basic methods for determining the temperature of oil:
The average popcorn kernel pops at about 350 degrees. Enough said.
When placed in properly heated oil, a little piece of bread will sizzle and bubble noticeably. For the love of pete, DO NOT put a whole slice of bread in the pan! Just don't do it!
A good ol' fry thermometer (350 degrees)
OR a fancy new infrared thermometer. Those are cool. I don't own one.
Squish 1/4 cup portions into 1/2 inch thick patties, and place about 3 in the oil at a time. Cook 2-3 min. on each side. They're done once they turn golden brown and delicious.

Contrary to classical belief, more oil does not equal greasy food. In fact, the contrary is true. More oil (at a suitable temperature) will cook the food more quickly, allowing less absorption of the fat. Take that, weight watchers! You can also filter oil that has not been heated beyond 450 degrees through cheesecloth and use again. If you notice significant color change or ever, ever see smoke, it's time for a change.
When the pancakes are done, place on a draining rig composed of a cookie sheet with paper towels inside, and an inverted cake cooling rack on top of that. Looks something like this:

Drain, repeat, and eat! (With applesauce, of course)

This was my FIRST time ever slicing an onion. :)


  1. "Shiny" GrammyMarch 12, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    Kudos on the recipe AND the onion slicing!

  2. What a great blog! you're a very good writer, too. I used to baby sit your mom. We often made chocolate chip cookies and I imagine that we did not clean up afterwards very well--your grandmother Judy would have to verify. Keep going!

  3. Sounds wonderful. Can't wait to try them. Good directions.