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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kartoffelnpuffer (Potato Pancakes)

Kartoffelnpuffer, as the name suggests, is German.

Sure, it suggests potatoes... and pancakes... but they're all really, really German.

And my wife, who actually has less German blood than I do, positively loves this stuff.

In fact, when she first saw these potato pancakes today upon arriving home from work, she literally jumped and clapped.

It's a sad but true fact that my wife never professes her love for me more than when I've concocted a creative solution to end her day's inevitable hunger.


Seriously though, I've said I was going to write something about potato pancakes for some time now.  Actually for over a year.  In fact, I just looked it up... I first mention it in My German Influences and then alluded to slightly in Kartoffel Kloesse a little after that.  

That's not to say I haven't made potato pancakes in the last year, just that I've not documented the process.

Until now.

That's right, release your bated breath, the time has finally arrived.

I do apologize for the photos, they were taken with my tablet not my camera.

So, I've become quite skilled at this process over the years, and of that original recipe I posted, only the core technique truly remains at this point, as I've tweaked and revised so many times.

One of the first changes was the use of real garlic and onion as opposed to powdered.  That stuff is blech.

So, I always start by sauteeing some chopped garlic and onion.

After softening that up nicely, I'll transfer it into my dish of 'prepared' grated potatoes.

"Prepared" means that not only have these potatoes been grated, but they've also had their juices squeezed from them, and separated.

You'd be surprised how much juice is in a potato if you've never squeezed one before.

One of the most important tricks in pulling this off, is to re-incorporate the potato starch once it has settled.

See, of the squeezed potato juice, much of that is starch, which is considerably more dense than the liquid and settles on the bottom of your container after a few minutes.

So, carefully pour off the liquid and then you're left with starch, wonderful starch.

Not surprisingly, this has a similar consistency and feel to corn starch, and if you've ever made 'magic mud' as a kid, your tactile memory will immediately remember the feel of this stuff when you stick in your fingers.

Anyway, so all of that starchy goodness gets added back into the 'dry' potato gratings, as does the above-mentioned and recently sauteed onion and garlic.  I also added some freshly-chopped, fresh oregano leaves.  Because oregano is awesome.

Next, to this mix, we are going to add an egg, about a half a cup of flour, and finish the batter off with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Remember that this is called 'pancake' for a reason - the batter consistency should be rather wet.  I've found some recipes call for too much flour, which makes the pancakes dry and gummy.  In fact, every time I make this dish, I put in less and less flour... perhaps someday in the future there won't be any flour at all?  

In any case, remember it is a batter and not a dough.  So, it's wet and gloopy.

Now it's just the frying of the cakes in the pan.  :)

The more oil you use in the pan, the crispier the pancakes will get.  So bear that in mind.

I usually transfer cooked pancakes to an oven-safe plate to keep warm on low heat, because it often takes some time to cook these in any great amount.  4 - 5 is usually all we need for two people (they are very filling), but even that can take a surprising length of time.

Anyway, once everything is all done, I get a few 'toppers' out for them.  Sour cream (or as we prefer, 0% Greek Yogurt) is great, along with some of the chopped green onion if you've saved them, or some chives.  I wouldn't think ill of you if you chose some good ketchup either... <wink, wink>.

Anyway, for tonight's topping, I whipped up an oregano and scallion Greek yogurt.