Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Potato Pancakes

The kids I nanny for celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas.  On Monday, they could hardly contain their excitement for the beginning of the festival of lights.  I feigned ignorance (as I love to do with children) and asked the 6-year-old to explain to me what Hanukkah is.  This is what I got:

"You think that Hanukkah is just one night [like Christmas] but it's not it's 8 nights which means 8 nights of presents."


Constructivism at work.  I know that as he gets older he'll build upon this conception of Hanukah, but right now Hanukah is candles, presents, and potato pancakes.

I knew Hanukkah was fast approaching when I saw their mom had stocked the freezer with about 20 boxes of potato pancakes.  I often make mashed potatoes for the kids so I understand that peeling a pound of potatoes isn't normally one's idea of a fun way to spend an hour, so I don't blame her for getting the store-bought kind.  In fact, my family will also get frozen potato pancakes from Trader Joe's (which by the way are different from their delectable hash browns) and they're just as good as the real thing.  That is until you try actual potato pancakes - the ones fried in oil.  And by try I really mean eat 4 of them in about 10 minutes.  So after this experience I thought I would broaden my horizons a little and try my hand at making potato pancakes from scratch.

Let me tell you, this is not something you plan to do about an hour before dinner.  I went to Chef Central and bought a special peeler for this endeavor.  I found the best way to peel potatoes (because there is a science to this), is to pull the peeler towards you.  Just be sure to go slowly and keep your fingers out of the way.  I find this gives you more control and you can get more peeling done in less time.

There are different ways you can prepare your potatoes.  You can mash them.  You can shred them.  Or, you can put them through a food processor.  I feel that, although it is extra work, shredding gives you the best consistency.  If you have a food mill, you could do this in a matter of minutes.  But, let me tell you, shredding is an amazing tricep workout...

So while you're shredding and working out your triceps, your potatoes will start to turn pink.  Don't freak out (like I did), this is just the starch in the potatoes coming out.  Rinse very well with cold water for a couple of minutes to remove the starches.  Heat up your oil, scoop in some potato mash, and when the edges start to get golden brown, flip them.  You can make them as big or little as you want, but remember the smaller they are, the easier they are to flip.  I fried mine in about 3 in. wide cakes.

These are such a special treat to have whether you celebrate Hanukkah or not.  You can always make them ahead of time and then reheat them in a 350F oven (which will also make them a little crispier).  And for those of you that do, Happy Hanukkah!

Potato Pancakes
Yield:  25
Prep Time: 40 min          Bake Time: 8 - 10 min (each)

-                4 large Russet gold potatoes, peeled and shredded
-                ½ lg onion, grated
-                2 eggs
-                ½ c flour
-                1 tsp salt and pepper
-                Oil for frying

Place shredded potatoes in a colander and rinse under very cold water for a few minutes to remove the extra starches.  Pat dry with a paper towel and transfer to a large bowl.  Add grated onion, egg, flour, and salt and pepper.  Stir to combine completely.

Heat oil in a frying pan over low to medium heat.  When the oil begins to bubble slightly (after about 5 minutes), spoon the potato mixture into the oil.  Allow to brown on one side for about 4 minutes and then flip.  Remove when golden brown on each side.  


  1. I love Chanukah too -- we've been eating latkes -- love 'em!

  2. We make them in Russia pretty often and call them "dranniki")))
    Your blog is amazing, I am a follower now) Plus I am a teacher too, not working at school now, but thinking about coming back in a few years. Kids rock!
    Happy Holidays!


Comments may take a little while to show up, but don't worry they'll be there. Thanks for taking the time to comment, I read and appreciate every one!