Potato pancakes originally hail from the Eastern European countries. They were known as peasant food. Potatoes were plentiful, and the pancakes have few ingredients, making it an easy and low-cost option during hard times. In Poland, they are known as placki ziemniaczane. Potato pancakes have many names in Germany. Here they vary slightly by region and therefore, also have different names, such as Kartoffelpuffer, Reibekuchen, Reiberdatschi, Kartoffelpfannkuchen, Reibeplätzchen, Reiberdatschi and Grumbeerpannekuche.
The way in which pancakes are served varies from country to country and region to region as well. Some serve the pancakes with simple salt and pepper and savory sides, and others serve these with sweet toppings and a side of applesauce.
My Mom has made these since I was a child and was one of my favorite meals. Over the last several years, my Mom has made these for our extended family get-togethers. These get-together weekends involve a lot of cooking, eating, friendly competitions and talking ‘smart’! The pancakes are made outside, over a large cast grill.
My family has adopted a tradition of having Potato pancakes on New Year’s Day. My husband’s parents join us as well as other family and friends. We once heard that eating Potato pancakes on New Year’s Day brought good fortune for the year ahead! I’m not sure about that, but we certainly enjoy them in our family!
Mom's Potato Pancakes
1/4 C Milk
3 C peeled, diced potatoes
1 small onion, quartered
3 TBS flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
Well-Seasoned Cast Iron Pan
Heat cast iron pan slowly. Add 1-2 TBS shortening to the pan and keep the temperature low enough so that it does not smoke.
Prepare batter by adding all ingredients to a blender. Puree until smooth.
Check the temperature of the pan by dropping a drop of water in the pan. It should sizzle.
Pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Flip pancakes when golden brown, approximately 8 minutes per side. Add additional shortening as needed to coat the pan between batches.
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Monitor the temperature of the pan. It needs to be hot enough to create a crispy, brown surface, but not so hot that the pancake burns while cooking. It takes time to cook through thoroughly. If you have difficulty regulating the temperature, try adding more milk to thin out your batter. This will decrease the total cooking time and minimize scorching the pancake.
Vegetable or canola oil will work as well, but shortening has produced the nicest pancake.
Wait until the pancake begins to look dry before flipping.