On these cold winter days we find ourselves surrounded. Earthy vegetables are scattered throughout the cool and dry spots of the house in boxes, baskets, and paper bags, the rest jammed in the fridge. Our winter cache is beginning to dwindle to the hardiest of produce: carrots, celeriac, beets, parsnips and potatoes, all of which taste sweeter than standard grocery fair from the magic/science of starches, sugars, and cold weather. Winter is the only time of year I truly enjoy peeling vegetables, for the stunning aromas of these wonders encompass my head like a perfume. The smell of a winter celeriac freshly diced is a gift that makes me weak at the knees.
Today we’re working with a northern standby, the potato. Not as aromatic and seductive as other earthen vegetables at first whiff, yet the warmth and comfort associated with the potato, not to mention its versatility, makes it a true staple of virtually all styles of cooking. I feel like something a little different this time. Let’s make some pancakes.
The potato pancake could not be simpler. At the very least, you need potato and a hot greased pan. The form of the potato is variable, ranging from mashed potato leftovers to freshly shredded raw potatoes. You can get creative and mix in virtually anything you think might pair well, like cheese or apples. Quite fun.
This recipe, based on the German potato pancake (Reibekuchen oder Kartoffelpuffe in Deutsch), delivers a crisp, light, unapologetic fritter that can serve as an appetizer, side, or complete meal, depending on the family’s mood. We treated it as a full meal and served with crisp sliced apple, yogurt, applesauce, and maple syrup.
German Potato Pancakes (Gluten Free)
inspired by John Thorne‘s Reibekuchen in Outlaw Cook
- 2 lbs potatoes
- 1 apple
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch (or GF flour blend)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg (optional but good)
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (optional but good)
- lard or vegetable oil
1. Peel and shred apple and potatoes (discarding apple core). Put into bowl with around 6 cups of cold water and let rest for 30 minutes.
2. Using cheesecloth, a kitchen towel, or a mesh bag, strain off as much water as you possibly can into a bowl. You will need the water for a later step, don’t discard! Squeeze that cloth good!
3. In a clean bowl, whisk together the eggs, flour/cornstarch, SPices, and salt. Let your kids help if they’re looking for something to do.
4. Pour off the reserved liquid and you’ll find dense, possibly pasty sediment at the bottom. Add this and the shredded apples/potatoes to the Egg mixture and stir to combine.
5. Heat your pan over medium heat and add your preferred frying fat (we used lard), starting at a quarter cup and adjusting to your personal frying preference. Cast iron is preferred for even heating and authentic rustic feel.
6. Using a spoon, dollop the batter into the hot pan. I used a majorly heaping tablespoon. Press the pancakes flat with your turner.