Potatoes have been with us since the beginning of time. But it was the Spanish conquistadors who brought it to Europe from Peru in the 16th century. Funny thing is that it wasn't until the 1800s that potatoes gained currency throughout most of Europe and became the common staple we know today. It's popularity is understandable. It is one of the most versatile of foods. Yet, over time it has become routine. We serve them fried, baked or mashed. Our Jewish brethren, during the Hanukkah festival. make them in the form of latkes, or potato pancakes. But, just like with rye bread, you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy potato pancakes. They are easy to make; and are a well-deserved change from the usual fries.
One can have potato pancakes for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They make a great side dish with ham, steak or chicken. Or you can enjoy them simply with applesauce or sour cream.
Given below is a basic potato pancake recipe. I've learned through experience that it's convenient to keep them warm in a low oven depending on time constraints. Believe me, once you've tasted these suckers, they'll become a regular event.
BASIC POTATO PANCAKES
4 large russet potatoes, peeled
1 medium red onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup parsley or cilantro leaves
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
3-4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil for frying (about 2 cups)
1. In a food processor, grate the potatoes, onion, garlic and parsley (or cilantro). Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, scrape into a large bowl. Drain off any excess liquid.
2. Mix in the eggs, salt and pepper. Add enough flour to the mixture to make it thick (about 3-4 tablespoons should do it).
3. Preheat oven to low (about 200 degrees F. or 95 degrees C.).
4. Heat a large heavy skillet or pan (I prefer cast iron) over medium heat. When hot, add oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan (about1/4-inch oil should be sufficient). Drop two or three 1/4-cup batter into hot oil, and flatten to make 1/2-inch thick circles. Fry, turning once, until golden brown (about 4-6 minutes per side). Drain on a plate lined with paper towels, and repeat until all the batter is used. Keep warm in the low oven until serving time.
Yield: 4 servings.