Potato pancakes, also known as latkes in Yiddish, are a traditional dish made from grated or ground potatoes, onions, and flour or matzo meal. They are often served as a side dish, but can also be served as a main dish or as a snack. Potato pancakes can be topped with sour cream or applesauce, and are traditionally served during Hanukkah to commemorate the miracle of the oil. They are commonly made in Jewish, Central European, and Northeastern European cuisines.
Potato pancakes are typically made by mixing grated or ground potatoes, onions, flour or matzo meal, and eggs together to form a batter. The mixture is then formed into small cakes and fried in oil or butter until crispy and golden brown. The addition of grated onions and flour or matzo meal helps to bind the mixture together and gives the pancakes their characteristic flavor and texture. Some recipes may also include grated carrots, parsnips, or other vegetables, as well as seasonings such as salt, pepper, and herbs.
Potato pancakes can be served with a variety of toppings and accompaniments, depending on personal preference and cultural tradition. In Central and Eastern Europe, potato pancakes are often served with sour cream or applesauce, while in Jewish cuisine, they are often served with sour cream and applesauce, along with a variety of savory toppings like smoked salmon.
Some variations of Potato pancakes include:
- Rosti: Swiss version of Potato pancakes which are thicker, crispy, and typically served as a side dish.
- Kartoffelpfannkuchen: German version of Potato pancakes which are thin, crispy, and typically served as a side dish.
- Reibekuchen: German version of Potato pancakes which are thin and typically served as street food with applesauce or bacon.
Potato pancakes are versatile dishes that can be enjoyed in many ways and can be paired with many different flavors and ingredients. They can also be made with sweet potatoes, which gives them a unique sweetness and orange color.
Here’s a simple recipe for making traditional potato pancakes:
- 2 cups grated potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)
- 1/4 cup grated onion
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Vegetable oil or butter, for frying
- Place the grated potatoes in a colander and press out as much liquid as possible.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the grated potatoes, onion, flour, egg, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
- In a large skillet, heat about 1/4 inch of oil or butter over medium heat.
- Using a spoon or a small ice cream scoop, drop spoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil.
- Fry the pancakes, turning them occasionally until they are golden brown and crispy on both sides.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancakes from the skillet and drain them on paper towels to remove excess oil.
- Serve with applesauce or sour cream, if desired.
You can add more flour or eggs if the batter is not holding well or add more grated onion, herbs, or spices for a more pronounced flavor.
Use cold potatoes for better grating, as warm potatoes will be mushy and release more starch, making it harder to form pancakes and making them less crispy.
Also, there are variations of this recipe using different ingredients, like using flour or matzo meal instead of all-purpose flour, using shredded carrots or parsnips, or adding breadcrumbs to make the pancakes more crispy.
Why are my potato pancakes not crispy?
There are several reasons why your potato pancakes may not be crispy:
- Excess moisture: If your potatoes release too much moisture during grating, the pancakes will not be able to crisp up properly. Make sure to press out as much liquid as possible from the grated potatoes before forming the pancakes.
- Crowding the pan: If you put too many pancakes in the pan at once, the temperature of the oil will drop, and the pancakes will not be able to crisp up properly. Be sure to give the pancakes enough room to cook in the pan.
- Not hot enough oil: The oil needs to be hot enough in order to crisp up the pancakes. Test the temperature of the oil with a piece of bread. When the bread turns golden brown in around a minute, the oil is ready.
- Flour does not mix well: If the flour is not well mixed with the grated potatoes, it will not absorb the excess moisture and it will make pancakes less crispy.
- Not draining well: If the pancakes are not drained well before serving, the excess oil will make them soggy and less crispy.
- Using old potatoes: Potatoes that have been stored for a long time will have a higher starch content which can make the pancakes less crispy.
In summary, Properly grating and squeezing out the potatoes to remove excess moisture, using hot oil, giving the pancakes enough room to cook, using fresh potatoes, adding the right amount of flour for the grated potatoes, and draining the pancakes well after frying are all key to make crispy potato pancakes.
How do you keep potato pancakes crispy?
There are several ways to keep potato pancakes crispy:
- Drain well: Drain the pancakes on paper towels or a wire rack after frying to remove excess oil. This will help to keep the pancakes crispy by preventing them from becoming soggy.
- Keep warm: Keep the pancakes warm in the oven set at the lowest temperature, or in a slow cooker set on the “keep warm” setting, while you finish cooking the rest.
- Reheat them properly: If you need to reheat the pancakes, heat them in a dry skillet over medium heat or in a single layer on a baking sheet in a preheated 350F/180C oven for the best result. This will help to re-crisp the pancakes without making them soggy.
- Refrigerate or freeze them: Potato pancakes can also be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for later use. To reheat from the refrigerator, place them in a skillet over medium heat or in a preheated 350F/180C oven until warmed through. To reheat from the freezer, place them in a 350F/180C oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until warmed through.
- Avoid storing in aluminum foil: When storing, avoid wrapping the potato pancakes in aluminum foil as it can trap moisture, which can make the pancakes soggy.
- Use cold potatoes: Use cold potatoes to make the pancakes as it will help to keep the starch inside the potatoes and make them crispier.
Overall, keeping the pancakes dry and warm, reheating them properly, and storing them in the right container and/or temperature are all keys to keeping the potato pancakes crispy.
What do you eat potato pancakes with?
Potato pancakes are versatile dishes that can be enjoyed in many ways and can be paired with many different flavors and ingredients. Some common toppings and accompaniments include:
- Sour cream: A dollop of sour cream provides a cool and creamy contrast to hot and crispy pancakes.
- Applesauce: Applesauce is a classic topping for potato pancakes and gives a sweet and tangy complement to savory pancakes.
- Caviar or smoked salmon: These are traditional toppings in Jewish cuisine and provide a delicious, rich, and salty flavor.
- Herbs and spices: Fresh herbs such as chives or parsley can be chopped and sprinkled on top of the pancakes to add flavor and color.
- Meat dishes: Pork, bacon, and sausage can be added as toppings or on the side of the potato pancakes to make it a more complete meal.
- Vegetables: Vegetables such as sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, or roasted tomatoes can be added as toppings to add more flavor and texture.
- Gravy, cheese, or the egg: Some variations of potato pancakes are topped with gravy, cheese, or fried or poached eggs, especially in German or Swiss cuisine.
These are just some examples, but you can be creative and add any kind of topping you like, there are really no limits when it comes to this versatile dish. Potato pancakes can be a side dish, a main course, or even a snack depending on how you want to serve them and what you want to pair them with.