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Chris Amirault

Potato Pancakes--Cook-Off 16

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Every now and then since December 2004, a good number of us have been getting together at the eGullet Recipe Cook-Off. Click here for the Cook-Off index.

For our sweet sixteenth Cook-Off, we're making potato pancakes. Sure, many of you make potato pancakes now and then, and you may be thinking that this is not a very special dish. Allow me to disagree!

First, let's admit that we haven't had any Jewish cooking here in the cook-off before, and as Chanukah approaches (Dec. 25, 2005 to Jan. 2, 2006 this year) we have a natural opportunity to share latke recipes for that holiday staple. In addition, many folks get out the grater for holiday brunches and New Years Eve parties, since the potato pancake is a great party food as well. Finally, there are many versions of the potato pancake to be found throughout the spud-eating world, including Belarusian draniki, Boxti Irish pancakes, Swedish potato lefse, Polish kartoflane placki... the list goes on and on!

Finally and as always, the eGullet Society has some folks ready to share ideas and recipes for this dish. Start by clicking here for a titanic latke thread, started by our own Steven Shaw, who has in fact been crowned as a latke king. You can also click here for a controversial discussion about whether latkes require potatoes. Truth be told, I'm not finding much on the others -- so we've got some work to do!

Get your graters, skillets, and fats out, people!

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So, before I delve into making potato pancakes, what should I serve with them?

I know I'm in lefse country. I hate lefse. I hate the idea of butter and sugar on that potato pancake, which I think is more like a crepe.

I'm thinking of trying latkes. Need side ideas before I pull out the grater and devour the available info.

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So, before I delve into making potato pancakes, what should I serve with them?

I know I'm in lefse country.  I hate lefse.  I hate the idea of butter and sugar on that potato pancake, which I think is more like a crepe.

I'm thinking of trying latkes.  Need side ideas before I pull out the grater and devour the available info.

Of course traditionally you would serve sour cream and/or applesauce with your latkes.

I just made potato pancakes the other night for dinner and put some chive sour cream and leftover gravlax on top. That was an excellent combination that could easily be replicated with store bought smoked salmon.

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I think potato pancakes are on many peoples minds with Thanksgiving leftovers and all. I also made them a couple days ago. What a treat. My non stick all clad pan helped to make them to perfection.

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If you've read some of my other posts, you may know that I tend to go through holiday prep. earlier than most. I've been submerged in Latkes for the last month or so .. I just finished a column with 8 recipes (one for each night of Chanukah)...

All eight:

gallery_25849_641_22243.jpg

Traditional Potato and Onion:

gallery_25849_641_313743.jpg

Zucchini and Leek:

gallery_25849_641_229829.jpg

I'll be making many many latkes over the next month - orders are coming in already, and I try to have some in the showcase at least once a week.

I'm of the 'it doesn't have to be potato to be a latke' thinking. One of my favorites is a wild rice and mushroom latke - but I use zucchini, sweet potato, apple, cauliflower, cottage cheese, green onion, cooking onion, corn, feta, spinach and leeks in some of mine.

I like my potato pancakes hot out of the frying pan with sour cream. Apple sauce only when being eaten with a meat meal.

:wub: I'm so in on this cookoff.


Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

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For a light supper, we just have a soup beforehand and maybe a salad. In this case, we serve them with sour cream and/or applesauce and also with more salt and pepper. I've also served them with a mushroom sauce for a meatless meal.

They are also a great sidedish for saucy German/Austrian dishes like sauerbraten. The sauerbraten doesn't need any last minute attention and thus frees up time for making the potato pancakes.

The critical question in our family circle regarding potato pancakes is "smooth" or "rough" referring to the size of the potato shreds. My dad's Austrian mother made them smooth (and he always mentions this, :smile:) while my Mom and I use the medium shred obtained from a box grater.

My basic recipe:

4 cups grated potatoes

Add

2 beaten eggs

1 cup flour

1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper

1/4 cup milk (or more if batter is too thick)

Sometimes I grate a little onion and add that in as well.

Fry up in an iron skillet and serve fresh out of the pan. (They are very tasty fried up in lard, but I'll usually use vegetable shortening).

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Snowangel, I used to serve my latkes as part of this meal, in courses:

A big Greek salad, with chicken if desired

Latkes with sour cream and homemade applesauce

Broiled grapefruit with candied ginger

Stroopwafels or butter cookies and coffee/tea

It was a fun dinner for a few friends around Hanukkahtime.

You know, latkes ain't the only potato pancakes out there. 2 weeks ago, I made a big rosti and ate it with ketchup as my dinner. Yes, that was the whole dinner. I had a bad potato craving!

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Yes, that was the whole dinner.

I do that a lot, too-a big plate of them just with sour cream. Potato pancakes are one of my top 5 all time foods.

Pam, will your column with the 8 kinds be linked to your website? I'd love to hear more about the different kinds.

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I know I'm in lefse country.  I hate lefse.  I hate the idea of butter and sugar on that potato pancake, which I think is more like a crepe.

Susan,

My grandfather emigrated from Norway, and my mom had home made lefse when she was growing up. Later she and my father moved to a small town in WI with lots of third and fourth generation Norwegians.

The first time my mom went to a lutefisk and lefse dinner, she did as she had always done growing up at home. Wrap the cod in the lefse with a little melted butter and eat it like a burrito. Everyone else at the table stared in horror. They couldn't fathom that anyone would eat lefse as anything but a dessert.

Anyhoo, I apparently loved lefse a little too much as a small child, one time eating it until I threw up. I haven't been able to stomach it since.

-Erik

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I really love potato pancakes, I had them for the first time about 8 years ago....

I have even made them sort of Japanese style by mixing them with shiso and drizzling ponzu on top. :biggrin:

I am really looking forward to this!

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I've never made potato pancakes with grated potato. Maybe this cookoff will give me a good reason to try it.

I have some leftover mashed potatoes from last night; I might turn them into potato pancakes a la Tee Jaye's (a sub-Denny's chain of restaurants in Ohio, home of the Barnyard Buster). I was also thinking of making korokke with them - do those qualify as potato pancakes?

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Korokke (at least as I know them) are mashed up potatoes mixed with vegetables or meat, then breaded with panko and fried. I was thinking of making some with mashed potatoes and stuffing... hmmm.

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I know I'm in lefse country.  I hate lefse.  I hate the idea of butter and sugar on that potato pancake, which I think is more like a crepe.

Susan,

My grandfather emigrated from Norway, and my mom had home made lefse when she was growing up. Later she and my father moved to a small town in WI with lots of third and fourth generation Norwegians.

The first time my mom went to a lutefisk and lefse dinner, she did as she had always done growing up at home. Wrap the cod in the lefse with a little melted butter and eat it like a burrito. Everyone else at the table stared in horror. They couldn't fathom that anyone would eat lefse as anything but a dessert.

Anyhoo, I apparently loved lefse a little too much as a small child, one time eating it until I threw up. I haven't been able to stomach it since.

-Erik

Now that's interesting. I grew up with a Norweigan stepfather and we attended Sons of Norway events for years, including many a lutefisk or meatball dish. Lefse was always served along with dinner, and we used them just as you describe: much like a tortilla. I've eaten them hot off the griddle with butter (oh, my, were they ever good!), but have never seen them presented as a dessert item in any way.

Now I'm jonsing for lefse and cultured butter.

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Depends! What's korokke?

Its the Japanese transliteration of "Croquette" from English to Japanese Romaji spelling. Like "Aisukurimu" is for Ice Cream.

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Where and when does Chris fire the starter's pistol and say in his best Yiddish accent "On your mark, get set, go fry!"?

I am a fan of the not-so-very humble latke and will be joining in the greatest Cookoff since the Kansas Land Rush ...

Are there any parameters, Chris, or is it very freeform and casual in its requirements? :rolleyes:

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Latkes must be potatoes. Made with other veg they are fritters.

Only you, jackal, would lie in wait and, at the crucial moment, leap from the bushes waving your nearly perfect latkes! No fair! :angry:

You have thrown down the potato gauntlet and we have no other choice but to launch our own latkes in your direction ... engarde!

Made with other veg they are fritters?? Did someone say Fritter?? :laugh:

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Here's a link with some interesting information on potato pancakes: click

Mentioned are:

Mashed Potato Types (most common in Britain and US)

Grated Potato Types:

Hash Browns

Rosti (coarsely grated, bacon and onion somtimes added)

Bavarian Style (called Kartoffelpuffer)

Very finely grated potato, with a small amount of flour, egg and onion.

German Style (Reibekuchen, etc)

Similar to Bavarian-style but potatoes more coarselly grated.

They are used as part of a savoury coarse, or served as a sweet sprinkled with sugar or garnished with fruit. In the Rhineland, they are made small, more about fritter size, and served with a fruit sauce, such as apple or now even cranberry sauce. German purists try to avoid putting any flour or egg in. They are known by several names, depending on the region of the country and the dialect. Names include: Baggers, Kartoffelpuffer, Kröppelscher, Reibekuchen and Reivkooche. In reality, this isn't just German style, but applies to most of Eastern Europe.

Latkes (Jewish Style): traditionally grated potatoes, eggs, onion and matzo meal and fried in goose fat

The Eastern European version of Latkes, served with applesauce or sour cream, is the one most familiar in Europe and North America. There are actually many other varieties though: in Syria meat is added, in the Balkans cottage cheese is put inside, in Algeria they are made with couscous, in Hungary garlic is added, and in Morocco, Jews there add sesame seeds and coat them with sugar after frying.

Also mentioned are:

Lefse (Norwegian Potato Pancakes)

Buñuelos de papa, Tortitas de papa (Spanish Potato Pancakes)

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Snowangel,

My mom always makes potato pancakes when she serves up her pork roast, dumplings and sauerkraut :wub: . I know it sounds like starch overload but the dumplings are Bohemian and the potato pancakes found their way to our dining table thanks to a suggestion by a Polish woman my mom met when she first got married.

Like others have mentioned, we also top them with sour cream.

But the real secret to their appeal is the way they soak up the pork-enhanced juice from the saurkraut. :cool:

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Latke means pancake. Not limited to potato.

Kiliki: If you pm me your email, I can send you the recipes.

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Recently I had a good portion of a bunch of cilantro in the fridge that was about to go south and I was seriously considering using it in a batch of dal pancakes that I got from a Madhur Jaffrey cookbook, but I wanted to do something quicker. The solution: essentially my potato latke recipe augmented with the cilantro, chiles and spices. I served them up with tamarind/date chutney. It was a first attempt so I noted that, although tasty, there was too much onion and not enough spice and I vowed to try again. This looks like a perfect opportunity.

Of course, with Channukah approaching I may just stick with the standard dealio. My preference is for small, crispy lacy ones- topped with sour cream and salmon roe. It may take a few days before I know which way the wind is blowing on that one, but I'm definitely in for the cookoff.

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I'd especially like to know what kind of oil everyone uses, and how deep the oil is in their pan.

I was drooling at work over Pam's pictures and had to run home and make potato latkes for dinner.

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My camera's in the shop! I wonder, should I feed the scanner my potato pancakes?

Well, During channukah I will have guests take photos, and you all say that it is never too late to join, right? This year I've planned something UNUSUAL for one of the nights of Channukah, and it involves potato pancakes!I adore my kiddle and want to thrill her to no end by combining her favorite cuisine with potato pancakes... Stay tuned...

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An interesting combination with potato is grated jicama. That is, I mix 2/3 grated potato with 1/3 jicama.

I was taught to grate the potatoes into ice water, allow to soak for 20 - 30 minutes, then lift them carefully from the water, leaving the starch behind, then rinsing them and drying them in a towel before adding the remaining ingredients.

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