Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Potato Pancakes – Squeeze and Be Squeezed

These sexy looking potato pancakes would sure make a nice looking first course for your Valentine's dinner. Here you can see that I've finished them with a little smoked salmon, sour cream, and dill, but you can use them as a base for many other combinations.

If you want to splurge a bit, maybe a dollop of caviar, or if you want to go the other direction, simply garnish with applesauce and sour cream. Some other ideas I really like are crab salad, sautéed mushrooms, and caramelized onions.

But, before you get to the big decision of what to top these golden-brown beauties with, we have to talk about squeezing. The one and only way to not get perfectly crispy potato pancakes is to not squeeze them properly.

I just finished the written recipe that will go in the cookbook, and when I looked at it, I couldn't believe how long and wordy it was. I mean, potato pancakes are a very simple recipe, but for some reason it takes a long time to describe how to prep the potatoes.

More than half the procedure was dedicated to grating, soaking, draining, and squeezing the potatoes. If you don't thoroughly squeeze all the liquid from the potatoes, the pancakes just won't crispy up as well.

Once cooked, you can keep these crispy in a warm oven until your, what I'm sure will be a very memorable, Valentine's dinner is ready to begin. Besides making a great appetizer, these are fantastic for breakfast. In fact, you could use that as a little leverage later in the evening, if you know what I'm saying. Enjoy!



Ingredients:
2 1/4 pounds russet potato, peeled
1/2 yellow onion, peeled
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne
vegetable oil, as needed
3-4 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon
4 tablespoon sour cream
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

55 comments:

EcoEcho said...

My grip isn't what it used to be so "squeezing" out the water might not work so well. What about adding a handful of potatoes/onions at a time to a salad spinner to help remove the water?

Anonymous said...

I seriously believe you could win the next food network star without even trying

Chef John said...

may work, if the holes are small enough.

nossi said...

Latkes! Potato pancakes are traditionally made on Hanukka, and I've been making these since my grandmother (aka Bubby) taught me how to make it since i was a wee bar mitzvah lad...I use the same recipe that i use for Potato Pudding (aka potato kugel) which i make every week for the Sabbath, and i personally don't like the consistency of the potato when using a box grater, and there's another type of grater, which happens to be very hard to find in America (looks like this - http://www.barking-moonbat.com/images/uploads/tater_grater_004rs.jpg), it makes the potatoes much more mushy, although im not sure if thats what you were going for, either way - as always ur version looks super delicious, and next time i make them, ill try your version, and we'll have a taste test

Food Junkie said...

That looks like it's going to be a real nice recipe to try. I too thought about the salad spinner which may do a good initial draining but I kind of doubt that it will do as good a job as squeezing. I have done potato pancakes to use up left over mashed potatoes but have never tried them like this. Looking forward to trying this, maybe with a hint of cajun spice.

Kim

KrisD said...

@EcoEcho, if you have a sturdy colander, put it in the sink, put a towel over, and press down hard! Toss and press more! I have to stand on a step stool for optimal pressing height...

HTH

Tim said...

Chef John, have you ever done sweet potato pancakes? If so, what would you change in the recipe to suit them?

Chef John said...

same recipe i think

Susanna said...

By giving out recipes so readily from your due-to-be-published cookbook, won't it diminish people's interest in buying the cookbook?

blogagog said...

This recipe will be breakfast in about two hours :)

My wife had a good idea (it may have come from Chef John originally... we steal his ideas all the time) - Use a potato ricer to squeeze the potatoes. You're left with the driest potatoes known to man.

Max said...

Chef John,

What's the purpose of soaking the potatoes? And what would happen if you didn't do it?

Epicurette said...

That looks really tasty. Winegasm in Astoria, NY has a fontina potato pancakes that I've been trying to recreate for months, I have the sneaking suspicion there's truffle oil in there...

Chef John said...

Sus, that's the genius of my flat-fee, no royalties deal! ;-)

Chris K. said...

@EcoEcho: a good salad spinner will do a fine job of draining grated potatoes. Don't overfill it and work in small batches.

Ring molds or a biscuit cutter help make neater-looking potato pancakes. Just pack them loosely - not too thick - or they won't cook all the way through.

Sean said...

Never had potato pancakes, but they look pretty good.

Eric said...

Chef John,
I see you didn't add any salt to the water. On another recipe for potatoes I recall you suggested salt drives the water out making them crisp better. Same thing would apply here wouldn't it?

Eric

Chef John said...

I don't recall a potato recipe where I salted out draw out water. Which one?

Chef John said...

btw, BG, potato riced sounds like a great tip!

Seth G said...

Chef, I'm with Max: what does the soaking do? Are we saturating / removing the surface starch? Knowing that a dry potato was the goal, it never would have occurred to me to soak them for a half hour.
Thanks, Seth

Chef John said...

rinsing removes a lot of the starch and makes for a cleaner, crisper potato. if not u get grey gluey ones.

Jesse said...

"A Fistful of Taters" starring Chef John!

TRICHTERWINDE said...

Hello,
I found your blog yesterday on youtube. I asked for recipes from Julia Child. And I found you! :) Very good! ;)

I think this is a typical hungarian (Europe, Hungary) food. For example we eat with sourcream and garlic. Of course this is not so fine as the salmon, but very good for a light dinner. (Sorry, my english is not so good.)

EcoEcho said...

Not far off, TRICHTERWINDE, Chef John is like Julia Child in men's clothing.

Trichter said...

EcoEcho,
Yes, I see! Recipes with videos is very good idea! I like it :)

TRICHTERWINDE said...

I was "Trichter" too

Mac said...

If I were to cook these on an electric frying pan, what temperature setting would you recommend?

Chef John said...

i'll guess just over medium

Valli said...

Please tell us how to make egg less Potato pancakes.. it will become a treat for us Vegetarians.
Lots of Love

Ramona W said...

I made these delicious pancakes last night..... they were soo RIGHT! The only thing I added was a few drops of hot sauce, which went well with the pancake. I had them with smoked salmon,dill and sourcream, poached eggs and applesauce. But honestly it didn't need any toppings.

Shaunie said...

I'm so happy I found your blog!!! These look amazing. I usually make a different recipe every year for Hanukkah and this year it will be yours 100%! Thanks for sharing :)

blue said...

ı am following your blog for a while.I am from istanbul, turkey. I have tried many of your recipes. Sometimes I modify them to turkish ingredients. Some of the ingredients you use is not applicable for turkish cuisine. bacon or any kind of pork products for example. anyway.... every time I try one of your recipes it turns to a real feast. right now I am eating potato pancakes and broken wheat salad also known as "kısır". I want to add that this potato pancake recipe is also very close to turkish "mücver", which is a way to produce vegetable pancakes but it is usually eaten cold and probably with a drink as "meze".mücver can be done with zuchhini, eggplant and carrot as well as potatoes. ingredients are the same tecnique is the same. I think you should try those versions, too. thanks a lot for the blog...

Thifa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Another way to dry the potatoes is to put them in a clean tea towel (after draining very well). Then gather the edges of the towel together and twist. The twisting will force the remaining water out.

Don't try this with a terry cloth towel, though. It needs to be a thin cotton towel.

Allan said...

If you're really serious about extracting all of the water from your potatoes (and you should be), I urge you to go to a fabric store and purchase a yard of muslin cloth. (No, not Muslim, "muslin"!) Using a sewing machine, make a bag from the cloth approximately 6 inches wide by 10 inches high. Put your wet grated potatoes in the bag (a cup or two at a time) and then squeeze & twist the bag with all the strength you have. You'll end up with all but bone-dry potatoes, just the way they should be.

Caroline said...

i agree with Allen, my grandma always uses cheese cloth to get rid of the water in the grated potatoes. I also recommend you try topping this with left over irish stew, because i swear nothing tastes better.

Anonymous said...

how long do you cover the potatoes as i saw from watching the video

Daveyboy said...

If I'm alive when I wake up tomorrow I'm going to make these for breakfast. I have the potatoes, I have the onion, I'm going to use the power of my mind to simulate the smoked salmon though.

Jeremy said...

Can you tell me which are the most frequent mistakes? I think i made a few. I took out all the water but my pancakes came out bland.

Jeremy said...

Can you tell me which are the most frequent mistakes? I think i made a few. I took out all the water but my pancakes came out bland.

Chef John said...

More salt. That's it!

Sara said...

Chef John,
Can I make these in advance (fried and all) and then freeze them? Then perhaps I could microwave them? Would they still be crispy and tasty or...?

Chef John said...

no they won't!

Lisa said...

Hi Chef John,
I made these following your you tube posting and they came out wonderful!
I thank you for this. Its great to see some one make them. It's the way I learn best. If you want to freeze them, you could flash freeze them for 10 min. hot and then bake them in the oven at 400 degrees till they are hot!
good luck and Happy Hanukkah!

Madonna said...

I have seen so many recipes that grate the potato, squeeze out the liquid and fry. I find them really distasteful. I have been trying to find a recipe like this for a long time. I have also tried to make Hasselback potatoes, but I find them to be gluey also. Do you have any suggestions to remedy this?

Thank you so much for the recipe and the short videos that reenforces your instructions.

Elizabeth said...

Can you make them in advance? like the night before.

Elizabeth said...

Can I make this recipe in advance? Like the night before and just warm them up for breakfast.

Anonymous said...

How many potato pancakes does this recipe make roughly?

Chef John said...

maybe 12

Silky said...

Thank you thank you thank you!!!!

Ive failed with a few different recipes in the past and was ready to give up making them until i stumble upon your site.

Made it twice now.... once following your exact instructions and once substituted a parsnip for one of the potatoes(gives it a different lil kick).

Charmaine said...

Hi chef John! :o)) I was wondering if these potato pancakes can be prepared ahead of time and frozen individually until they are needed? If so, what would the procedure be then? Are these the same as Rosti?

Thanks!
Charmaine

iamathousandapples said...

Quick question: what happens when you DON'T make them super dry?

iamathousandapples said...

What happens when you don't get them dry enough?

Chef John said...

they don't get as crispy!

Jon said...

I used your recipe as the basis for replicating a veggie burger from a local burger joint (the new owners keep overcooking the patties.)

To your recipe, I added 1 tsp each of coriander, cumin, and garam marsala and then 2 tsps of curry powder. I also doubled the salt and threw in some finely chopped cilantro. The pancakes were then fried a bit longer until they're a deep golden brown and then put on a hamburger bun with shredded head lettuce, tomato, diced red onion, sour pickles and a nice dab of curry mayo.

Without your recipe as a starting point, I never could have replicated this, so thank you!! (And your tip to make a sample one for testing the seasoning was genius)

We Three Kings said...

Holy Amazing!! Best potato pancakes I ever had. One thing though, I didn't bother peeling the potato and they still came out great. First time ever soaking them first too. Totally worth it. Thanks!