Discover my cherished family recipe for Polish Potato Pancakes (Placki Ziemniaczane). This is among my favourite potato dishes, ideal when paired with a savoury sauce or enjoyed by itself.
My love for potato pancakes was inherited from my grandfather. Whenever I visited his farm, he would prepare these large pancakes using potatoes he’d grown himself. We would binge on them together, savouring every bite. Those moments really stuck with me, and I’ve loved them ever since. I was hooked.
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Potato Pancakes Origins in Europe
Potato pancakes, known as “Placki Ziemniaczane” in Poland, share a culinary kinship with the Jewish potato latkes. Before World War II, the Jewish and Polish cultures were deeply interwoven, influencing each other in various facets of life, including culinary traditions. This interaction likely led to some overlapping or shared dishes, and potato pancakes serve as a testament to this cultural exchange.
The potato itself became a fundamental staple in European diets after its introduction from the Americas. Following the colonization of the Americas, the potato plant gained immense popularity worldwide due to its hardiness and nutritional value. In Poland, as in many parts of Europe, this New World crop quickly became a dietary staple, providing sustenance and versatility in numerous dishes, including the beloved Placki Ziemniaczane.
Varieties of Potato Pancakes across the Europe
Across Europe, various regions have their own takes on the potato pancake:
- Germany: People commonly refer to these pancakes as “Reibekuchen” or “Kartoffelpuffer”. Typically paired with apple sauce, these delectable treats shine at local fairs and Christmas markets.
- Czech Republic & Slovakia: Here, they’re called “bramborák” and are typically larger in size, sometimes incorporating marjoram for added flavor.
- Ukraine: The “deruny” are Ukraine’s answer to potato pancakes and can sometimes include fillings or toppings like meat or mushrooms.
- Belarus: The “draniki” is similar to the Ukrainian version and is a well-loved national dish.
- Switzerland: The Swiss “rösti” stands out a bit; it leans more towards a potato fritter. Moreover, people often link it with the German-speaking regions of Switzerland.
- Ireland: The “boxty” is a type of potato pancake that sometimes mixes raw and cooked potatoes.
- United Kingdom: Hash browns hold a cherished spot on the breakfast table. Made primarily from grated potatoes, chefs fry them until they achieve a crispy texture. Particularly in England, you’ll often find these hash browns shaped into triangular or rectangular patties. Moreover, they’ve become an integral part of the iconic “Full English Breakfast.”While hash browns are similar in concept to potato pancakes, they are distinct in that they usually don’t have other flavourings like onions or garlic, which are typical for many European potato pancake recipes. Hash browns focus on the crispy texture of the potatoes, often seasoned simply with just salt and pepper.
Best Potatoes for Potato Pancakes:
When making potato pancakes, the choice of potato is crucial. The type of potato you select can influence the texture, flavour, and overall success of the dish. Choose old potatoes, high in starch (floury potatoes) Here’s a guide to the best potatoes for potato pancakes:
- Russet Potatoes (Idaho potatoes) – These are starchy potatoes with a rough brown skin and pale, mealy flesh. Their high starch content helps bind the pancakes together without the need for too much flour or another binding agent. Additionally, they yield a crispy exterior when fried.
- Yukon Gold Potatoes – They are all-purpose potatoes with a balanced starch-to-water ratio. They have a buttery colour and a slightly waxy texture. Yukon Gold potatoes offer a creamier texture than Russets, giving the pancakes a slightly denser yet still delicious consistency.
How to prepare delicious Polish Potato Pancakes:
Polish Potato Pancakes (Placki Ziemniaczane)
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- Grate the peeled potatoes using the large holes of a grater. For the onion and garlic, you can mince them using a food processor. Then, add them to the grated potatoes.
- Place the grated potato, onion, and garlic mixture into a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth, and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. This step ensures the pancakes become crispier. (keep the liquid, read the recipe notes)
- Transfer the strained mixture to a large bowl. Add the egg, flour, salt, and pepper. Mix well until everything is thoroughly combined.
- In a large frying pan, heat half of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, take a two spoonful of the potato mixture, flatten it into a pancake shape in the hot oil. Fry each side until golden brown and crispy, roughly 2-3 minutes per side (You may need to add more oil later).
- After frying, place the pancakes on a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.
- Serve the potato pancakes while hot. They pair wonderfully with sour cream or your favourite sauce.
- Best Potatoes for Latkes: Starchy potatoes, like Russet or Yukon Gold, are ideal for this recipe as they yield a crispier pancake.
- Batter Consistency: Ensure the consistency of the batter is thick enough to hold together. If it seems too wet, you can add a bit more flour. Conversely, if it feels too dry, consider adding another egg.
- Potato Starch: After squeezing the water from the grated potatoes, don’t discard the liquid immediately. Let it settle for a moment. At the bottom of the bowl, you’ll notice some potato starch sediment. This is pure potato starch, and you can carefully pour off the water and then add this starch back into your potato mixture. It can enhance the texture of the pancakes and make them more cohesive.
- Pancake Size: The size of your potato pancakes can vary based on how you intend to serve them. You can opt for smaller or larger sizes. My grandfather, for instance, used to make them as large as the entire pan! 🙂
FAQ for Polish Potato Pancakes Recipe:
- Pancakes are raw inside what should I do? – When spreading them on the pan, aim for a flatter shape. If necessary, you can finish cooking them in the air fryer or oven.
- How do I achieve the perfect crispiness? Maintain a consistent medium heat while frying and ensure your batter isn’t too wet. It’s also essential not to overcrowd the pan.
- Can I store premade batter in the fridge? – I wouldn’t advise doing so. The batter is likely to turn black because of the oxidation of the potatoes.
A few words from Chef
I hope you relished trying out my easy recipe for Polish Potato Pancakes. I’m eager to hear your thoughts on the recipe. Did it meet your expectations? And if you made any personal modifications or added a unique twist, I’d love to know about them. Sharing experiences and variations only enriches our culinary journey!
If you enjoyed this dish, I invite you to explore more of my Vegetarian Creations. I’ve curated a diverse collection of flavoursome and healthful recipes that I believe will delight your palate. Let’s continue this delectable journey together!