When I'm feeling naughty, I pull my gallon tub of rendered duck fat out of the freezer and cook something with it. Once it was french fries - crisp, gamey, duck fat fries. Another time it was pasta, when I ran out of my cultured butter. And tonight? Tonight my mom and I ate the best potato pancakes we can ever remember, thanks to that tub of duck fat. They were crispy, so crispy and had a savoriness I cannot recall ever having tasted in a latke.
There really is a tub:
And the missing fat in the middle? Exactly what we used tonight in making the latkes.
First, the recipe:
Cake and Commerce's Mom's Potato Pancakes
- 4 large Russet or other starchy potatoes, peeled and chopped into quarters
- 2 small yellow onions, peeled and halved
- 2 medium-sized carrots, peeled
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 C flour of your choice (for my gf friends, choose tapioca, potato starch, or finely milled white rice flour. if you do go with rice flour, leave more liquid in the batter).
- 1 t baking soda
- 1-1/2 t sea salt
- pepper to taste
Soak potatoes, onions and carrots in cold water for at least 30 minutes, Using the coarse zesting side of a box grater, grate carrots, onions and potatoes into a fine paste. When finished, drain out liquid. Add in eggs, one at a time and mix until incorporated. Whisk in flour, soda, salt and pepper. In a hot fry pan filled with something delicious like duck fat, or less delicious such as vegetable oil, fry the pancakes until golden. Eat immediately. Pancakes do freeze well.
If you aren't sure if the pancakes are balanced, fry a little one up and test for flavor. Mom says it should be balanced in the following ways:
- Strong onion flavor (but NOT raw onion flavor)
- Salt level will hold up to applesauce (or, outside our house, sour cream)
- Crispness. No soggy latkes!
Grate the potatoes, carrots and onions:
Drain and place in large bowl:
And flour, baking soda, salt, and pepper:
Don't forget the pepper.
Now heat up your skillet and add the fat (apparently my grandmother used Crisco!):
Once it is hot, add your batter. Make sure you have enough fat that your pan does not dry out. If the fat is not hot enough, your pancake will absorb all the fat. It will be delicious but stomach-ache inducing.
When one side is golden, flip it over:
Continue cooking until both sides are golden brown and the pancake has cooked through. Try it as you go. I find myself unable to resist the urge. If there's a broken-apart pancake in the pan, its mine. And even if it is perfect, the first one usually ends up in my stomach.
Keep ''em cooking, and add fat as your pancakes continue to absorb it. A dry pan leads to burning very quickly. A smoking pan is the telltale sign that you need to add fat, and add it now.
Soon enough you'll have a pan of pancakes cooked to various degrees of golden crispiness. Worry not - just keep the ones that need more cooking in the pan a little longer.
We drain our pancakes on brown paper bags, a commodity that is ever harder to find in our house thanks to recyclable bags. If you have no paper bags, you can also use tea towels or paper towels.
Tonight we ate ours with freshly made apple sauce. Mom left the red skins on and so the sauce turned a baby food shade of pink:
And I ate mine with some lactofermented celeriac:
Thank you mom, for letting me stalk you in the kitchen while you were trying to cook!This blog post was part of The Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday on December 18, 2009.