Potato pancakes are kind of a big deal in many homes, and everyone has their own method. There’s a lot of speculation as to what goes into making a good pancake, and my guess is that’s because it’s easy to mess up such a seemingly simple dish. Too many eggs and your pancakes are rubbery; too much flour or starch, and they’re too dense. Some insist on using cooked potatoes, while others insist you can’t.

Today’s recipe is my take on a middle-of-the-road potato pancake. It’s not tied to one specific culture, but takes cues from several approaches; mostly, I like the heft of Belorussian dranikis, but the crispiness of Jewish latkes.

Many recipes use wheat flour to ensure that the potatoes stick together, but I’ve found that my favorite approach is to re-employ the starch from peeled potatoes: dump them in a water bath and allow the starch to settle at the bottom, then pour off the water to use as a binder. This step takes an extra 10 minutes, but is well worth it in terms of reducing food waste (and saving money buying tons of potato starch).

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Those pancakes look great, right? Totally delicious, huh? Not really. Truth is, I know how to make a fine looking pancake (let’s chock that up to my brief stint at IHOP as a teenager), but these pancakes didn’t taste very good at all. I think it just goes to show that gluten-free substitutions don’t always pan out.

Despite my gross pancake experience, I thought that now would be a good time to give some pancake tips. You first want to concentrate on the batter, and my biggest suggestion is to not over-stir the mix. You want to make sure the batter is still a little bubbly, and let it sit for at least five minutes. Once you pour the batter onto a medium-heated and slightly greased pan, you want to flip it at the perfect moment: when the batter is bubbling and the edges are slightly dried. Once flipped, you only want to cook the other side for about 45 seconds.

Okay, let’s get down to business.

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