It’s time for the delicious third installment in my Slovak Sunday Bake series. Now, technically this recipe doesn’t require any baking (forgive me!). It is in fact one of the easiest recipes I’ve posted to date, taking five minutes to prepare and about ten minutes to cook. It’s a savory dish that you can eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It takes a relatively cheap ingredient and elevates it to delicious, crispy art. You can find versions of it in Jewish, Irish, Swedish, and a host of Eastern European cuisines. Really, it doesn’t need me singing it’s praises; they are self-evident. Get ready, because we are making potato pancakes.
Potato pancakes are one Slovak recipe that I actually do remember eating at my grandparents’ house. I remember watching my grandmother at the kitchen sink, using a paring knife to peel each potato in one long continuous movement in about ten seconds flat. I thought she was a superhero, never cutting herself, a growing pile of corkscrewed potato peels below her. I think I knew even then that I’d never be that elegant a cook. I tried it once, years ago, and cut myself on the first try.
My grandmother would pull up this red and chrome high kitchen chair with a step stool attached to it and let me watch her work. I’m pretty sure I was like a particularly needy puppy, practically begging her to pet my head and give me some attention, which she always did. I spent hours in that kitchen, happily perched on that chair, listening to her hum to herself while she cooked. She fed my mashed potato addiction, and then made potato pancakes with the leftovers, so her version was even more buttery and decadent than this one. We are making a more familiar version of potato pancake in this recipe, but if you have leftover mashed potatoes, I highly recommend making them into patties and giving them a quick pan fry.
This particular recipe called for freshly grated potatoes, dashes of onion, flour, and salt, and two beaten eggs. I tried this version first, and found that the two eggs made the batter really runny, so on the next batch I used only one, with much better results. As long as you have a box grater, this recipe is super simple and quick to prepare, and will leave your kitchen smelling like you stepped into a fast-food chain hashbrown container (and I mean that in the best possible way). Make sure you use a generous amount of butter in the pan to help avoid burning the edges of the pancakes, and make sure you get both sides nice and brown. Serve them with applesauce or my personal preference, sour cream, and you can’t go wrong.
- 2 yukon gold potatoes
- ¼ of a yellow or white onion
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Salt, to taste
- Grate potatoes on a box grater, followed by the onion. In a medium bowl, mix with the egg, flour, and salt.
- Heat a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan. If using a large pan, place two or three spoonfuls of the potato mixture in the pan and press them down so that they form half-inch thick circles (or ovals). If using a small pan, do one pancake at a time.
- Cook until the bottom is browned and crispy, about three minutes. Flip over and cook the other side, about two minutes more. Place on a paper towel to drain, and repeat with the rest of the batter. Serve with sour cream, applesauce, or as the original recipe suggests, more butter.