German Potato Pancakes

Here's another favorite from the annals of comfort foods: Potato Pancakes. The thing is, what most people know as potato pancakes bear no resemblance to the potato pancakes we had growing up.

Most people know the kind of potato pancakes made from shredded potatoes (latkes), or those made from leftover mashed potato which have been mixed with egg and then fried. I've never cared for latkes because it seems that sometimes they'd be burned on the edges and pretty-near raw in the middle, and the mashed-potato kind are usually too gluey and lumpy. These pancakes are smooth-textured, with a definite potato flavor and even a bit fluffy, unlike the other two types.

These were the potato pancakes I'd been looking for when I had my German dinner on Christmas Eve in 2009. It was surprisingly difficult to track this recipe down. most of the recipes were for some variety of latke, with the occasional Leftover Mashed Potato Pancake recipe.

Finally I found Ann Chandler's German Potato Pancake recipe, and I knew as soon as I saw the pictures that these were the potato pancakes we'd had growing up. When the batter hit the sizzling-hot oil in the skillet, again, I knew that these were them, and then when I had the first bite of the first "tester" pancake, I had flashbacks to childhood at the Oktoberfests and Schlachtfests at Gasthaus Edelweiss.

Yep. These're them.

Herbed German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)

Makes 12 small pancakes

3 eggs1 medium onion5 medium potatoesfresh rosemary and thyme1/4 to 1/3 cup flour1 teaspoon saltpinch black pepper
Wash, peel and quarter the potatoes and onion.Puree the eggs, herbs and onion in a blender, not a food processor.*Carefully add the potatoes one piece at a time and continue to blend until everything has liquefied.Pour the mixture in a large bowl and slowly add enough flour to thicken to the consistency of pancake batter, stirring well. I like to add the flour 2 Tablespoons at a time.Add the salt and pepper and stir.In a large skillet, heat some olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the heat starts to shimmer, add the batter by the ladleful and cook until nicely golden brown around the edges. I use a 12 in. skillet and fit 4 pancakes in it.Once the edges are nicely browned, carefully flip the pancakes and let cook a few minutes. The pancakes will puff up slightly, and you want to flip them only once, so check the color underneath.

You'll want them to look like this on both sides:

Add olive oil to skillet for each new batch of pancakes. Let them rest on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb extra oil.

Serve hot with salt and pepper, butter, sauerkraut or sour cream. If you omit the herbs, you can top them with applesauce, jam, vanilla yogurt or even maple syrup.
A food processor isn't strong enough to really liquefy this into a batter, so use a blender. A word of warning: Do NOT attempt to bend the potatoes, eggs and onion all at once, because the potatoes will gum up the blades. You want to liquefy the eggs and onion first and then gradually add the potato for a smooth batter.

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