Something hidden deep in our DNA demands a return to dinners that, in the fall, both fill and warm our tummies. Is it our prehistoric ancestors who doomed us with a compulsion to pack on pounds to survive both the cold and a scarcity of food over the winter months?
There's good with the bad, though...sometimes the comfort foods of cool weather warm our hearts, too. Especially when they connect you with memories of your childhood and family.
My German heritage meant there were some pretty hefty foods in the family repertoire...like Sauerbraten, Schnitzel, potato dumplings and spaetzle...that summoned up those warm feelings of comfort for the Engbarth family. Why, oh why, do Germanic comfort foods HAVE to be the kind that packs on the pounds?! The fam tries not to eat like that anymore, but occasionally we do enjoy an old favorite.
One of the best of the best of those handed-down-favorite-recipes was my mother's potato pancakes. As heavy German dishes go, this one was "lighter" than most...faint praise, I know...hey, there aren't any cream sauces involved!
Healthy or not, she didn't make them often - not because they were bad for us - but because she risked life, limb and fingertips grating pounds of potatoes by hand. She HATED shredding potatoes, we LOVED the potato pancakes. She must have really loved us to have even made them once a year.
And then. God bless the French, they invented the Robot Coupe (the forerunner of Cuisinart). Shredding potatoes suddenly became a snap! Instant gratification in the form of nearly instant potato pancakes! The miracle technology didn't happen in time for mom to take advantage of the time saving (and knuckle-saving!) machine, but it arrived in time for me to make them for her before she passed away. I think she was amazed and maybe even slightly jealous!
What are potato pancakes like? They're lacy and light, yet substantial at the same time, crispy, crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside with great potato flavor. There are two traditional ways to enjoy them that I know of...with applesauce, the way I like them best, or with sour cream - that's how Mark likes them. And when Mark's feeling wild, he does them up royally loaded baked potato style with sour cream, shredded cheddar, bacon and green onions. That's almost a meal in itself!
I've changed mom's recipe just a little to add crisp bacon once in a while. Of course, I use gluten-free flour for ours....just use regular all-purpose flour if gluten isn't an issue for you.
Do you call them latkes? Sometimes I do, too. It really doesn't matter WHAT you call them. Maybe give them a try for dinner with brats or for breakfast with bacon, maybe use all white potatoes or maybe use half shredded sweet potatoes. Most of all, maybe they'll create memories that will make you and your family feel all comfy and warm inside, too.
German Potato Pancakes
- 6 medium baking potatoes, leave the skins on!
- 1/2 small onion
- 3 slices bacon, cooked crisp
- 3 tablespoons flour, gluten-free to make these GF (Jules' is my fave!)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste (I like lots!)
Fit your food processor with a shredding disk. Feed the potatoes through the tube. Next feed the onion through, then the bacon. Everything goes through the processor and into the processor bowl....no shredding or chopping at all! Transfer the contents into a large bowl.
Add the flour and the egg, season with salt and pepper. Mix well and thoroughly.
Heat a scant amount of oil for each batch in a large skillet - I use a large, griddle-sized electric skillet. Using an ice cream scooper, make mounds and space them out to allow them to spread. Press each mound down with a spatula and flatten them out well. Brown well on one side, flip and brown well on the other.
|Flattening the mounds into pancakes!|
As each batch is done, remove to a paper towel covered plate and keep them warm in the oven until they're all done.
Serve with sour cream or applesauce. Or load them up like baked potatoes with sour cream, shredded cheddar, bacon bits and green onions.
NOTE: This makes approximately eighteen 4-5" pancakes.
The amount of oil you use to fry them determines how many calories are in each. Not including the oil, they're only 68 calories each. It's up to you whether you use Pam & keep the calories low or use a little oil for a few more calories.