Potato Pancakes made with finely grated raw potatoes and onions are such a treat. They are golden and crisp on the outside and so tender they just melt in your mouth. They can be made with just potatoes and onions, but adding a meat filling takes this delicious comfort food to the next level.
I confess; potato pancakes are my weakness. No matter how many different types of food that I cook and love, potato pancakes still remain my favorite. My Mom would make these on Saturday mornings, and I can still picture her standing next to the stove, making batch after batch as we all sat around the kitchen table, smacking our lips as we forked down the golden and crispy potato cakes.
You can make the potato pancakes without the meat (you’ll have double the amount of pancakes), and that’s what I usually do, but adding meat will ensure a hearty meal with protein. (Besides, my husband likes to have meat with every meal, so I kind of have to if I’m serving them for dinner. He claims that if there is no meat, he will be hungry again in half and hour:). These are definitely worth any of the effort that goes into making them.
What Type Of Potatoes Should You Use?
My personal favorite potatoes for potato pancakes are Yukon Gold potatoes. They have the perfect starch content, not too much and not too little. I have tried pancakes with many others, and Yukon Golds always turn out a better texture and color – they don’t brown as quickly as the Russets. I think the flavor is the best with gold potatoes too.
What Should You Use Grate the Potatoes? Box Grater vs. Food Processor
The oldest method for these pancakes is to use the smallest setting on a box grater. This is what I prefer to use.
I think the texture is great when you use a box grater; I use the finest holes on a box grater, which grates the potatoes into a really fine texture, almost a puree, but there are still tiny, thin strands of potatoes.
I grate 3/4 of the potato on the finest side and then I grate the remaining 1/4 of the potatoes on the second finest holes of the box grater – this helps me not too grate my fingers, but also produces a small amount of shredded potatoes in the batter, which makes the texture as perfect as it can get.
You can also use a food processor, pulsing the potatoes until they are a fine consistency.
Making the Potato Batter
Grate the potatoes and onion using a box grater, or use a food processor to pulse the potatoes and onions until they are a fine consistency.
Add the egg, flour, sour cream, salt and ground black pepper to the bowl with the potatoes and onions, mixing to combine.
If you’re using a food processor, add all these ingredients to the food processor and pulse a few times until the batter is evenly mixed.
Onions in the Potato Pancakes
Not only is the addition of onion in the potato pancakes delicious, but the onion helps to keep the potatoes from browning too quickly. Yes, you can skip the onion if you don’t like the flavor, but your pancake batter will turn brown/gray fairly quickly.
Can You Make Potato Pancakes Without Eggs, Flour and/or Sour Cream?
In short, yes. Some people swear that you only need grated potato and onion to make potato pancakes, and I’ve actually make them without all of these additions multiple times when cooking for vegan family/friends.
However, the consistency of the pancakes will be different. They will be harder to work with and they will be very delicate and will rip very easily, especially when you are frying them and then taking them out of the pan.
Use a spoon to get rid of most of the excess liquid that will pool at the top of the pancake batter. Don’t get rid of all the liquid, keeping some of it, so the potato batter isn’t too dry. This will make it easier to spread out in the skillet. If there is too much liquid, the potato pancakes will sizzle and spit a lot more when fried.
The Meat Filling:
You can use any ground meat that you like – ground pork, beef, chicken, turkey, etc.
Add the grated onion, salt, ground black pepper and water to the meat and mix together in a bowl and set aside. (I use half of a large onion in the potato pancake batter and grate the remaining half into the meat.) You can also add any of your favorite spices, herbs and seasonings to the meat for extra flavor.
Cooking the Potato Pancakes
Heat about 1 Tablespoon of oil in a non stick skillet over medium heat. Using a large spoon, portion out four pancakes, spreading them out into oval or circular shapes.
Cook on medium high heat until golden on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.
If you are making Potato Pancakes without the filling, you should get 20-24 pancakes out of this amount of batter.
For the meat filled potato pancakes, shape 1-2 Tablespoons of meat filling into a patty and place on top of the potato pancakes. The meat patty should be thin, so that it cooks through quickly. Using damp hands helps the meat mixture not to stick to your hands too much.
Spoon more potato batter over the meat, covering it completely.
Cook on medium heat for 4-6 minutes per side. You will have about 12 meat filled potato pancakes.
The cooked potato pancakes can be kept warm in an oven preheated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit while you are cooking the rest of the pancakes.
Serve with butter, sour cream, green onions/dill and/or applesauce. Potato pancakes are best served fresh, not made in advance.