Search This Blog

Monday, October 28, 2013

Flour-less (Gluten Free) Kartoffelnpuffer (Potato Pancake)

Not because I'm on the gluten-free bandwagon.  Honestly, I'm of the opinion that the only people who should be conscious of gluten in their diet are those who unfortunately live with celiac disease.  That's just my opinion of course... and there are a lot of people who swear by the health effects of a gluten-free diet.  

So, I'm not here to piss anybody off.

Instead, I'm here to talk about my ever-evolving potato pancake recipe.

Every few months I'll whip up a batch of these time-consuming and mess-inducing bad boys.  The wife loves them.  Some of them are simple, some of them are complex, but - at least up until this point - they've all contained flour.

They're supposed to.  I mean, they're potato pancakes after all...  However... seeing as I like to perfect things, and I've become relatively experienced making these... I have, periodically and gradually, lessened the flour content with each subsequent iteration.

Until today, when I just said F it (F is for Flour, children!) and concocted a way to completely omit flour from this batch.

I liked it.

You'll see.

So, the recipe itself is a little different from other kartoffelnpuffer batches I've made in the past, primarily, of course, because of the absence of any flour.

Because I'm fiddling with a time-honoured and well-tested recipe, I tried to think long and hard about this one.

Firstly, in order to compensate for the lack of flour, there will need to be some other sort of binding agent involved, lest the pancakes be hash browns instead.

I chose to double the egg content.  So two eggs.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, because flour negates (or incorporates, however you want to think of it) liquid on an almost 1:1 ratio, this recipe would need to cut back substantially on the amount of liquid.  Lest the pancakes be potato soup instead.

To satisfy this limitation, I withheld virtually all the liquid.  The two eggs, of course, but they'll congeal when cooked (which is kinda the point); however, other than that there was only a very small amount of butter added.  

Now here's a cool trick you may already know; when you DO have to limit the fat content in a recipe (especially butter or oil), something you can do which can give the illusion of a richer, more concentrated, butter flavour, is brown the butter.

Basically this just means frying up some butter until it starts to brown.  

This sounds easier than it is though, because butter has a relatively low smoke point, you have to do this on medium or low heat, and be very wary of burning.

I learned this trick with low-fat baking (like cookies and muffins), but why shouldn't it work with pancakes -- which, really, is kind of like a baking microcosm, isn't it?  

So, I browned some butter, but I like to soften my garlic and onion before adding them to pretty much anything I eat though (because, really, who enjoys munching on a wet and chunky raw onion in the middle of a soft, velvety, potato pancake?) :) so I added that to the pan shortly before the butter began to brown.  The butter will take like 10-15 minutes depending on the heat of your pan, but the onion and garlic only need about 3-5 minutes.

The browned butter, onion, and garlic mixture then got put into my large mixing bowl and set aside for the grated and squeezed potato.  You can see that there isn't really much liquid at all.  Hopefully should be good!

The single worst part of potato pancakes, in my opinion, has always been the grating and squeezing of the potatoes.  No matter how careful I try to be, I seem to always make a mess of my kitchen.  In fact, sometimes days after I've made P.P. I'll still be finding dried pieces of grated potato in places you'd swear it would have trouble reaching.  <sigh>

I like to use white or yukon gold potatoes for P.P. , and as always, 'new' potatoes are better.

Anyway, after grating all of those into one medium bowl,

I began the painstaking task of squeezing small handfuls of potato, and saving the juice.

And, being especially concerned about moisture content in this batch, I made extra sure to give each handful another squeeze.

The 'dried' potato got added to my large mixing bowl, with the browned butter mixture, while the freshly squeezed juice got saved for later in a small mixing bowl.

The starch from the juice starts to solidify real fast, and after only about 5 minutes, you can pour off the liquid portion.

What's left is almost all starchy goodness.  Which, of course, we'll be adding back into the 'batter'.

After we whisk in a couple of eggs though.

So, that's it for 'wet' ingredients.

Mix all that up (I find hands work best, even though it's - again - super freaking messy) and if you want add some signature spices.  I've done everything from oregano to nutmeg to rosemary here, it doesn't really matter.  Just pick one dominant flavour that will go well with the potato and onion and garlic flavours.

Then, as with most pan-frying, make sure your large skillet or griddle is heated, but don't go much higher than medium-high heat.

Then, using an heat-safe pastry brush, lightly brush some vegetable oil in your pan, immediately before lumping a small spoonful of batter in.

Using your hands, your flipper, or any implement you choose, gently flatten the batter, spreading it out as much as you can.  If you want to go for a thicker style, you can, just be sure to cook on medium-low heat, and maybe think of covering the pan.  I like mine 'thin' though.  So I spread them out evenly and then flip them when the tops start to look totally dry.

In a perfect world, I could have a commercial-sized grill and do like twelve at once.  But I don't.  :(  It can be really time-consuming to cook these... but still worth it!

So, after about half an hour of slaving over a hot stove, I've got about a half dozen, very crispy, very gorgeous, pancakes which I keep warm in the oven.

These worked out really well, and as you can see, are still really cohesive; certainly enough to still deserve the name 'pancake'. 

I like ketchup with my potatoes.  I receive a lot of negative comments because of my love of ketchup, but F y'all man.  I always retort with the fact that ketchup is actually not really all that bad for you.  Tomatoes?  Good.  Vinegar?  Good.  Sugar?  Well, OK.

Throw in an organic, home-made ketchup, and you're talking a condiment that is practically a HEALTH food!  :)

Anyway, I like ketchup, the wife likes sour cream.  Well, we haven't used sour cream since about 2005, as Greek yogurt is so much better (0% Greek yogurt is so thick and yummy, ever since first substituting that, we've never looked back!)

So I whipped up a 'dip' that consisted of 0% Greek yogurt, and ketchup.  Shut your mouth, it was delicious!!!

I also served up with some brown beans and some baked carrots, which were so good, I think they're deserving of their own dedicated post sometime here soon.

The beans, however, were simply brown beans in tomato sauce, but with a few of my own touches.

First, I added some of that gorgeous browned butter with onion and garlic mixture.

And a chopped jalapeno.  :)  (c'mon, there's a nice, cool, dip to go with it!)

And then the beans, with a healthy dose of oregano and ground cumin.

I actually had these simmering for an hour or so, while I was working on the pancakes. They were a perfect accompaniment.  In fact, the wife, normally so delicate, fastidious and meticulous, ended up just unceremoniously dumping beans and yogurt dip all over the potato pancakes, and eating them all up as one.

I took that to mean it was all good.

Anyway, the experiment turned out well, if I do say so myself.  

Flour-less, and gluten-free, potato pancakes that were very delicious and still cohesive.

Again, however, let me reiterate that this was not for dietary or health reasons - although if you are concerned about your gluten intake, by all means this would work - but for taste / consistency reasons.  These pancakes were very crispy and uniform, without the tell-tale gumminess of flour pancakes.  

So I consider it a success.  

A delicious success from which there were no leftovers.  :)

P.S. Stay tuned for my Roasted Carrot Halves in Lemon Thyme Butter.  The single best carrots I've ever made!