Sunday, October 6, 2013

Leftover Mashed Potato Pancakes

My family's Midwestern roots mean that I grew up with comfort foods from that region--along with the belief that Sheboygan bratwursts are the only bratwursts in the US, and petty much anything can be cooked with Campbell's Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup.

One of my all-time favorite comfort foods is potato pancakes, probably because I could never seem to find decent ones anywhere but my mother's kitchen. When I was in college and visited home, and my mom asked what I wanted for dinner, I asked for her potato pancakes. After I left home, I perfected my own version of the recipe.

These are not the thin, anemic, crispy versions you find at restaurants like the Original Pancake House. They are also not latkes, which are made with grated potatoes. These are creamy on the inside, crisp on the outside, similar to croquettes but in pancake form. Because the potatoes are cooked and mashed and mixed with milk/cream (i.e. prepared like the mashed potatoes you would serve for dinner), mashed potato pancakes can be time-intensive to make from scratch, so I like to use leftover mashed potatoes as my starting point. Garlic mashed potatoes work beautifully with these. In fact, the other night, when we stopped at The Keg for dinner I asked (well, maybe it was more like "instructed") my husband to order garlic mashed potatoes for his side (as I was), knowing full well that we would be taking most of the mashed potatoes home for leftovers. Breakfast this morning was mashed potato pancakes, scrambled Egg Beaters with diced Lit'l Smokies sausages, and sliced apples.

Admittedly, the process of cooking these is a bit of an art form, and may require some trial and error to perfect. Cooked at too high of a temperature, they can be undercooked on the inside and burnt on the outside. I also recommend using a non-stick skillet with these, because if you don't have the right amount of oil or cook them incorrectly, they will stick to a standard skillet. Since my Cuisinart non-stick skillet has a copper core in the bottom that retains heat well, I normally just keep my flame on low the entire time. Cooking them ahead of everything else you prepare for your meal is actually a good idea, because keeping them in a warm oven for a while (around 200 to 250 degrees F) will ensure that they are cooked through and not mouth-burning hot on the outside when you serve them. So for this morning's breakfast, I made them first, stuck them in the oven while I prepared my scrambled eggs, and then they were perfect when I was ready to serve.

This makes 4 to 6 4-inch pancakes.

April's Mashed Potato Pancakes

1 1/2 to 2 cups Leftover Mashed Potatoes
1 Egg, or 1/4 Cup Egg Beaters
1 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Dehydrated Minced Onion
1/2 Teaspoon Chives
1/4 Teaspoon Granulated Garlic (if not using garlic mashed potatoes)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Extra-Light Olive Oil and Butter for cooking

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F.

Combine all ingredients, except for olive oil and butter, in a small mixing bowl and mix well. In the photos below, notice the difference in consistency between the mashed potatoes, and the prepared batter. The batter is thinner than the mashed potatoes and significantly smoother, but is not something you can pour like a typical flour-based pancake batter.

Mashed Potatoes

Heat about 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil and 1/2 Tablespoon butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, until butter is melted and sizzling.

Spoon batter into the pan using a large soup spoon, spreading the batter so that it is about 1/2 inch thick (it does not need to be uniform in shape or thickness). Do not crowd them in the pan--I usually make them 2 at a time in my 10-inch skillet. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until the bottom is a golden brown and the sides lose their glossy sheen--if they appear to be cooking too fast, turn the heat down to low.

Flip pancakes to cook the other side until golden brown (it is normal for the second side to cook 1 to 2 minutes faster than the first). When done, transfer to oven-safe plate and keep in oven while preparing remaining pancakes.

The pancakes tend to absorb oil while cooking, so add additional olive oil and butter to the pan before cooking the next batch. Repeat the process until all cakes are prepared.


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