Tante Mimi’s Potato Pancakes
My godmother Renate’s mom, my Tante Mimi made the best potato pancakes ever. I have memories of her standing in the kitchen next to the stove, her head of white curls and her apron around her waist with a towel slipped over the ties, for what seemed like a very long time making her specialty. We would be seated at the small kitchen table nearby waiting for fresh pancakes to be served one at a time out of the fat. Keep them warm so we could all eat together was not permitted as they would never be as good according to her!
A New Twist
I’ve made them for my family over the years. Sometimes with more success than others. Mine are never as good as I remember her tasting. I also think the potatoes she used has something to do with it. Our friend and neighbor, Greg brought over some smoked salmon the other night he picked up from his annual holiday salmon gathering trip into the city. It looked so fresh and delicious that I couldn’t wait for us all to be home together, I had to try some first just to make sure it was good! Shawn, I’m pretty sure would be very happy with the potato pancake part of the decision – but not so sure about the smoked salmon. Shawn is not a smoked salmon guy but coupled with Tante Mimi’s potato pancakes – I figured would be a sure win. It was. I should say, he loved the pancakes. The salmon part was tolerated but he loved the pancakes.
The secret, besides using good potatoes in this potato pancake recipe, is getting as much moisture as possible out of the potatoes after they are grated. That way they will crisp well in the pan. Tante Mimi used palm oil which of course, no one uses anymore. I use a plain vegetable or grapeseed oil so as not to impart any other flavour to the pancakes other than just the potatoes.
Tante Mimi served them with applesauce or plain with cinnamon and sugar. For the holidays, a little sour cream or ricotta cheese with smoked salmon and a caper or fresh chives is the perfect, decadent dinner or appetizer. If you are making them as hors-d’oeuvres, make them the size of a toonie so they are easily devoured in a single bite!
Potato Pancake Recipe
– 4-5 medium size potatoes
– 1 small yellow onion
– 1 beaten egg
– 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
– Salt and fresh ground pepper
– Vegetable or other plain unflavoured oil such as grapeseed oil
Grate the potatoes with a fine metal grate and place them over a sieve to let the water out. I put the grated potatoes in a clean dishcloth and literally wring the potatoes out in the cloth.
Grate the onions finely.
Combine the onions and the potatoes with egg, flour and salt, and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on medium high. Add the 1 tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, drop a spoonful of the potato mixture into the hot fat and using the back of a wooden spoon or spatula, flatten the pancake out as thin as possible.
Fry the pancakes until they are crispy usually about 7 minutes each side. They should be golden brown. I keep the pancakes warm in the oven on 150 single layers on a baking sheet. Or if making them in advance cool them and heat in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes just before serving. They are delicious with applesauce or cinnamon and sugar, baked ham and cheese.
For a special treat, top with sour cream or fresh ricotta and a slice of smoked salmon, caper or fresh chives and fresh ground pepper.