Friday, February 13, 2009

Comfort food: Potato Pancakes

You're going to see lots of potato recipes in this space for the next couple of weeks. My bins of potatoes in the cellar, still mostly full, are sprouting feelers. It's sort of akin to an alien encounter: pulling back a layer of newspaper to behold denizens of inert brown lumps sending up great thickets of ghostly white sprouts. Like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde case, who would've ever suspected that meek, supplicant potatoes had this vigor, this wild streak? Well, I knew, but I thought I still had a few months before my taters morphed into a vegetable freakshow.

Well, shucks. It's a lucky thing, at least, that potatoes don't wear out their welcome nearly as quick as some of the other crops we've tried storing and ended up having to eat in a rush, spurred by their imminent decay. You remember this coleslaw, right? Same idea. For a month, we ate cabbage with every meal, I swear. Potatoes, at least, have more universal application.

Last night I made these potato pancakes, and ate them with lots of sour cream and applesauce. A warning to those without a food processor: prepare to get mighty friendly with your box grater.

Potato Pancakes, with a twist

3 cups peeled, grated potatoes (russet are best)
1/2 cup grated onion

Combine in a bowl, then wrap in several layers of paper towel and squeeze like your life depended on it. Watch the potato water run down the drain. This step ensures crispy pancakes. Return the potato-onion mixture back to the bowl.

2 eggs
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
black pepper to taste

Add this stuff to the potato mixture, and stir until well combined. Divide the mixture into three equal portions, putting each into its very own bowl. To bowl number one, add:

1/2 cup peeled, grated beets

To bowl number two, add:

1/2 cup peeled, grated rutabaga

To bowl number three, add:

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp minced fresh dill

Begin heating a 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a big frying pan. When a drop of batter sizzles in the pan, spoon the batter, a 1/2 cup at a time, into pancake-shaped lumps. Flatted with the back of a spatula. Be patient while they cook: it'll take about five minutes to fry each side. Flip them once, and cook the other sides, then let them drain on a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve smothered in gobs of sour cream and applesauce.

I really love how pretty these guys turned out. Fancy enough for company. Of course, if you don't have (or don't want to bother with) rutabaga, beets, and fresh herbs, you could increase the amount of shredded potato by about 1 1/2 cups, and make straightforward potato pancakes. They'll still be absolutely delicious.

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katherine mary said...

i should not check this site as soon as i arrive home from work. now all i want is a fricken latke! oy!

Kristina said...

We've got leftovers! Come on over!

Italian Sweetheart said...

you make me so hungry!! and your i want to eat your pictures!!! :)

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