Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Smoky Potato Pancakes

One of the (many) things I love about reading cooking magazines is how broad the range of food always is. In other words, I sometimes feel like I live a sheltered life because I never had a potato pancake, or latke, until I made them myself. There are plenty of other examples of foods I'd never been exposed to until recently, but I'll spare you the list right now. Suffice it to say, I'm really enjoying my new, broader food horizons and discovering worlds I simply never knew!

When looking through my latest issue of Cooking Light Magazine, I found an easy recipe for Smoky Potato Pancakes, and I just could not resist giving them a try. I love potatoes, bacon, and cheese (all three of which are included in this recipe), so I couldn't wait to try them all together in this new form. As long as you have a food processor, or some other device that can shred potatoes quick as a flash, this recipe is such a breeze.

You cook up a bit of bacon, then save it for a topping at the end. You saute onions in the bacon drippings, then add a bit of garlic and scallion. The cooked onion mixture goes into a bowl with a bunch of shredded potato, some cheese, salt, and pepper, along with some eggs to bind the whole mix together. Shape the concoction into patty shapes, and arrange them on a baking sheet. If you're concerned that they won't be good because they aren't being deep fried, you shouldn't be. These turn out crispy, with a bit of tenderness inside. I might have been able to cook mine even longer; they weren't as dark as the picture in the magazine. Still, they were completely scrumptious and surprisingly satisfying as an entree. I served them up with a spinach salad (like the magazine suggests) and we had a fantastic meal. If you've never had a potato pancake, either, I would definitely recommend these as a first foray into the world of latke making!

Smoky Potato Pancakes
adapted from Cooking Light
makes 8 potato pancakes

2 center-cut hickory smoked bacon slices
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup thinly sliced scallion (the original recipe called for leeks)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 pounds shredded, peeled baking potato (about 2 large)
1/3 cup (1 1/2 oz.) shredded pepper jack cheese (the original called for sharp cheddar)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
Cooking spray
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan using a slotted spoon, and crumble. Add onion to drippings in pan, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add scallion and garlic; cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Combine onion mixture with the grated potato (note: make sure you wring as much of the moisture as you can from the potatoes before adding them!), pepper jack cheese, 3/4 tsp. salt, black pepper, and 2 large eggs in a medium bowl. Mix well. Divide the potato mixture into 8 equal portions, and shape each portion into a 1/2-inch thick patty.

3. Place patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray (I used Reynolds' nonstick aluminum foil). Coat patties lightly with cooking spray. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes or until golden and set.

4. Top the potato pancakes with the reserved, crumbled bacon and sour cream (if using). One serving size is 2 pancakes, 1 Tbsp. sour cream, and 1/2 bacon slice.

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