Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Potato Leek Pancakes

Chicago has a great holiday tradition of holding a Chriskindlmarket downtown, and, of course, I go there for the food.  I have to grab my tiny ceramic boot of mulled wine (more for the boot than the wine), the bite-sized nibbles of glazed gingerbread, the aromatic candied nuts, and a plate full of the crispy hot latkes.  My family has learned the routine, minus the wine for the kiddios, and we look forward to heading down and gorging ourselves through the market.

But there are times when you want a good latke and there doesn't happen to be a handy Old World German market around.  Then, you have to take matters into your own hands.
One of the things I love about doing the CSA and my garden is being able to stretch the veggies out into the winter.  I had a bed full of leeks in my garden, and they have kept pretty well in my fridge for months!  And the CSA brought us plenty of potatoes that keep very well in the pantry.  And leeks and potatoes happen to be an awesome combination!

Potato leek soup is pretty much a given, but once in a while, I like to stretch and make some Potato Leek Pancakes.  Same great combo of the oniony flavor of the leeks and the starchy potatoes, but in snackable bites!

Potato pancakes, latkes, and the like all take a little work, but they aren't hard to make.  Start by peeling potatoes.  You'll need about 2 cups shredded potatoes for this recipe, so around 2-5 potatoes, depending on the size of them.  After they're peeled, shred them on a large grate or in your food processor.

Clean and chop 1 cup of leeks, sticking to mainly the white and lightest green parts.

Mix your potatoes and leeks with 2 eggs and 1/4 cup of flour.  Feel free to use wheat or einkorn flour, or if you'd like a different texture, you could sub in panko for the flour.  Season the mix with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat some of your favorite oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  I tend to lean towards olive oil for this one, but have had decent results with coconut oil as well.  Spoon mixture to form small cakes of the potato leek concoction in the skillet.  They should be no bigger than about 6 inches, but I like to make mine around 3 inches in diameter.

Cook them until the edges and bottoms are golden, then flip carefully with a spatula and repeat on the other side.

Remove them carefully from the skillet with a slotted spatula to a towel-lined plate to absorb any extra oil.  Give them a quick sprinkle with kosher salt.

Repeat the process as needed with the rest of the potato leek mixture.

You can serve these as you would any potato pancake, with sides of sour cream and applesauce, or go a little wild and serve them with a good chutney.   Or you can just enjoy them as is, what usually is what happens around here, as certain people at my house always snitch the pancakes as soon as they are cool enough to snitch.

These also make a great side for roast chicken, pork chops, or steaks.  The slight onion flavor of the leeks is a great addition to the potato without it taking over the flavor.  Feel free to experiment with potato pancakes on your own too!  I'm thinking fresh fennel would make for an interesting latke as well!

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