Monday, August 6, 2012

Saturday Breakfast: Mashed Potato Pancakes

Ours weren't quite as fluffy as we expected them to be, but then I realized that 'somebody' (ahem, me) only beat the egg whites to 'soft' instead of 'stiff' peaks. Still, they tasted marvelous.

Who says you can't go home again? Taste memories are sometimes hard to recreate because what you remember tasting can be tied up with other kinds of memories: time, places, and people can all affect how you remember taste. Lynn, my co-cooking compatriot wanted to recreate the potato pancakes of her childhood from (long closed) "Farmer John's Pancake House" in Bakersfield, CA, formerly located at the corner of Union Ave and Golden State Hwy (Route 99). "Farmer John's" was a roadside diner and any of us who grew up in the U.S. prior to the 1970's can remember them well. They still exist, but largely they have disappeared, some have become regional chains and a very few are national or global chains.

Photos are reproduced with kind permission by Roadside Peek

These weren't the kind of potato pancakes like latkes that start off with shredded potatoes but American-style pancakes made with leftover mashed potatoes.

We modified the recipe from Aroostook on in that we did not add the sugar and added about 1 1/2 tablespoons of finely minced shallot. That amount of shallot was perfect - just a hint that didn't overwhelm.

Whether an exact re-creation or not, Lynn loved (as did I) how these turned out.


Adapted from: Aroostook on Food .com
Makes  approximately 12 pancakes (1/4 cup batter for each pancake)

  • 1 cup mashed potatoes - leftovers are preferred.
  • 2 eggs at room temperature, separated (see note below the instructions on beating egg whites)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Butter for the pan
  • Your topping of choice. We used maple syrup. The real stuff, otherwise it's not maple syrup, right?
  • Beat the egg yolks, the mashed potato, shallots, milk and butter. Sift the flour with the baking powder and salt. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and combine but do not over mix. Heat a griddle on low heat.
  • Beat the room-temperature egg whites until stiff peaks form. Turn the  heat on the griddle up to medium. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter. Fold the remainder of the beaten whites into the batter and fold until just combined and there are no streaks of egg white.
  • The amount of butter you'll need for the griddle depends on your griddle size. Our griddle could cook 3 pancakes (a scant 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake) and we added 2 teaspoons of butter for the first batch - and none thereafter. 
  • Cook the pancakes on the first side until the top shows bubbles and the edges start to look a little dry. At that point lift up the edge and peek. Turn when they're golden brown and cook on the second side until they're golden brown - about a couple of minutes. 
  • Serve as they're ready with the toppings of your choice. If you're cooking for a crowd, place an oven-proof platter in a very low oven (180 F) and place the finished pancakes on the platter until you're ready to serve.
  • Prepare the egg whites right before you're ready to use them
  • Your bowl and whisk (or electric beater) should be clean, completely dry and free of any grease. Even a tiny spot of oil or egg yolk will cause the process to fail.
  • Fresh eggs are best.
  • It's easier to separate eggs while they're cold, but you want your whites at room temperature when you beat them - about 30 minutes will do.
  • The safest way to separate your eggs is to have three bowls: two small-ish and one larger bowl (the one in which you'll beat the whites). Crack an egg into the first bowl. Separate the egg in your hand placing the yolk in bowl #2 and pouring the white into bowl #3 (the egg white beating bowl). Repeat. This way if a yolk breaks, you've only lost one egg.
  • Start out on low speed (if using an electric beater) to help break up the whites for a few seconds and then move the speed up to medium-high.
  • Once you've started, don't stop - this may destabilize the mixture.
  • "Soft Peaks":  When you lift your whisk or beater out of the bowl, the peaks flop over.
  • "Stiff Peaks":  When you lift your whisk or beater out of the bowl, the peaks stand up straight.

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