It’s amazing to me how many of my current favorite foods and beverages I didn’t discover until adulthood. Before college I’d never eaten Pad Thai and hadn’t yet discovered my love of tofu. And if you’d asked me on my First Communion I’d have told you I’d NEVER like wine. Boy how times – and palates – change. Among the other favorites I discovered during my dorm room days are potato pancakes. Because they are traditionally served during Hanukkah a lot of people think of them as a wintery food, but I gladly eat them any time of year.
Recently the folks at Tasteful Selections approached me to see I’d be willing to enter their recipe contest, for which they’d be sending me some of their potatoes to experiment with. With visions of potato pancakes in my head it took me but a split second to accept. To make my pancakes contest worthy though I knew they would need a bit of a twist. (Especially since I’d made another version of potato pancakes in the past and wanted a change.) So in place of my traditional topper of apple sauce I made a homemade Apple-Bacon Chutney. It was an inspired swap. The chutney really brings out the subtle sweetness of the potatoes, while the savory and smokey flavors of the bacon provide an unexpected pop. Even the addition of pumpkin pie spice is nice and rounds out the flavor with a little warmth and soft heat. I was a bit heavy handed in my dollops of chutney so I exhausted the entire batch on these pancakes, but I imagine it would also be lovely in a grilled cheese or on a flatbread pizza.
I also thought the Tasteful Selections potatoes worked very well in this recipe. Typically I’d use a starchier potato for pancakes, but I love that these gave the pancakes a cleaner, sweeter taste, not to mention a pop of color from the red skins. They are also very easy to shread since I could fit them whole into the feed tube of my food processor. I do find they give off a little more water than a baking potato, but if you take care to squeeze out any excess moisture as you go, you’ll still get pancakes with a beautifully crisp exterior.
Potato pancake recipe inspired by Cooking Light
Serves 6-8 as a filling appetizer
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1/2 cup diced sweet onion
-1/2 cup diced bacon
-1 cup chopped tart apple
-1/4 cup white wine or champagne vinegar
-1/4 cup packed brown sugar
-1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
-1 28-ounce package Tasteful Selections™ Ruby Sensation potatoes (or alternatively 28-ounces red-skinned potatoes), grated
-1 cup grated fresh sweet onion
-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
-Sour cream, for serving
To make chutney, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to turn translucent. Add bacon and cook until bacon is brown and has rendered most of its fat. Add remaining chutney ingredients. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 50 minutes.
While chutney is simmering, begin preparing the potato pancakes by spreading the potato and onion between several layers of paper towels; let stand for 15-30 minutes or until potato is barely moist, pressing occasionally to remove as much moisture as possible.
Combine flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and eggs in a large bowl. Stir in potato and onion.
Heat about 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet or well seasoned cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Spoon 2 tablespoons potato mixture for each of 6 pancakes onto pan. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Repeat procedure with the remaining oil and potato mixture. You may find that as you are working, the potato mixture becomes watery as the salt causes them to release moisture. This is okay. Just squeeze out excess moisture as you go along either by squeezing it out with your fingers or a spoon or occasionally emptying the mixture into a sieve.
Remove chutney from heat. Serve alongside potato pancakes with sour cream, if desired.
Note: To save time, both the potato pancakes and chutney can be made in advance, making them a convenient option for entertaining. Just reheat pancakes in a 350 degree oven until warmed through. Chutney can either be reheated in the microwave or served at room temperature.
What about you? Are there any food discoveries you have made as an adult?