So-Easy Potato Pancakes by Grandma Val

November 19, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Grandma Val was my father's mother and Jewish by marriage. Her specialties were brisket, sponge cake, and anything involving a potato or cabbage (think coleslaw). She was born in 1917 and raised (with her two sisters), by a single and very tough Polish mother (who brewed bathtub gin by day and turned their house into a speakeasy at night...Grandma and her younger sister slept with the full jugs when their house was raided), who no doubt made potato pancakes for them. I don't know where this recipe comes from (perhaps her sister-in-law Edna), but Grandma Val made them frequently and served them with their natural counterparts, applesauce and/or sour cream. Grandma used regular Idaho potatoes (she shopped religiously in King Kullen). I also recall her frying them in schmaltz (chicken fat). This made them EXTRA crispy and like two dishes (mashed potatoes and fried chicken) in one. - testkitchenette —testkitchenette

Test Kitchen Notes

Grandma Val did a great job coming up with this recipe. My family loved these crispy and nicely potato-ey pancakes and they were a snap to make. Refrigerating the batter for 1/2 hour after mixing is familiar as my mother's family uses the same method for matzo balls. Testkitchenette's instructions are clear and easy to follow and produced a delicious result. There was no browning of the shredded potatoes which is a big plus to me. Otherwise this is a pretty traditional Jewish style latke with one difference: frying in butter or shmaltz. I used sunflower oil for frying, not for health reasons, but because I tested these during Hanukkah and felt compelled to honor the tradition of using oil. However, I suspect that using an even richer frying medium would produce an even more delicious pancake. The only thing I would change is the serving size. I don't know if we went overboard, but this served four and we could have eaten more! —healthierkitchen

What You'll Need
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups potatoes (she always used Idaho), grated and soaked in cold water (drain and squeeze all extra moisture out till dry)
  • 5 tablespoons grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons matzoh meal
  • 1/2 cup chicken fat or butter
  1. In a bowl, beat the eggs and add the potatoes, onion, salt, pepper, and matzoh meal. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  2. Heat half the fat or butter in a non-stick (if you'd like) skillet and drop the potato mixture in it by the tablespoon. Fry until browned on both sides. Add more fat/butter as needed when frying. Keep warm until they are all fried.

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7 Reviews

healthierkitchen December 10, 2010
I should add to my review above that I meant that the potatoes did not brown before cooking...good thing. The pancakes, however, browned nicely!!
healthierkitchen December 5, 2010
Just tested these tonight and we loved them! Thanks for sharing your family recipe and your great story.
testkitchenette December 5, 2010
Thanks so much healthierkitchen! I am honored that you tested my grandmother's recipe! Happy and healthy holidays to you and your family!
testkitchenette December 4, 2010
My Great Grandmother Kate was quite a lady...she ran that speakeasy out of her house and distilled the gin herself. She raised two girls in the late teens and twenties by herself and eschewed (it wasn't really available anyway) any kind of charitable assistance. I wish I had gotten to know her and relish the stories my father tells.
testkitchenette November 21, 2010
Thanks drbabs...I'd imagine it is quite similar to many others' latke recipes. They transport me back to her kitchen when I make them.
drbabs November 25, 2010
Great story, too. A speakeasy?! How great is that!
drbabs November 21, 2010
Great traditional recipe--very similar to the one I grew up with.