Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Latke or the "classic" potato pancake

crispy on the out side and creamy in the middle this classic dish accompanies many meals well and also stands on it's own served with apple sauce and sour cream.


3 medium sized potatoes (I used yukon gold potatoes but for a crispier latke use russet potatoes as they contain less starch)

about a 1/4 cup of AP flour (all purpose but really any flour will work for this)

1 large whole egg

1/2 medium spanish onion

salt and pepper

1 or 2 cups of fat for frying (canola or corn oil is fine for this but i prefer to use clarified butter, duck fat or lard)


first peel your potatoes like so:

I prefer this style of swiss peeler for all my peeling needs:

next shred the potato on a common cheese grater (i prefer the box type grater but any thing will work):

now working in small batches squeeze the juice out of the potato and set aside when your done you should have dry balls of shredded potato and a good amount of liquid in the bowl:

discard the liquid and place the flour back in the bowl with the egg, flour, chopped onion and salt and pepper:

Here is a technique video on how to properly dice and onion. Be careful and try not to cut your hand off like i almost did with the first horizontal cut ;)

next mix all the ingredients together in the bowl making sure every thing is well homogenized.

put your lard in a shallow non stick saute pan and heat until it just reaches the smoke point (this means that the fat has the faintest wisp of smoke rising up from it) then add balls of the potato mixture to the pan and smash flat with the back of a spoon. at this point IMMEDIATELY lower the flame to a medium heat setting and allow the pancake to fry on one side until golden brown

flip over and fry on the other side until the same color has been achieved. If your pancakes are particularly thick you can place them in a 350 degree oven after flipping for 5 minutes or so. Just make sure you place them on the FLOOR of the oven. This allows for a more direct heat transfer to the pan and keeps the oil at the right temperature so your pancakes don't end up soaking up too much fat.

once done remove from the pan and drain on a rack seasoning with more salt and pepper. It's important to drain fried foods on a rack and not on paper towels. Draining on towels means your food will sit in the excess grease and reabsorb it as it cools leaving you with a soggy product. When your finished your pancakes should be delicious and crispy and look something like this:

Thanks for reading!

Next up by popular demand is a knife sharpening tutorial! Keep the requests coming and expect to see more recipes from my home kitchen up soon!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Soul Food Dinner

Hello everyone,

so it's been a while since my last post (almost a year) but I do plan on revitalizing this site. This week I'll be talking about a modest dinner I made sunday night based on what I found on sale at my local C-Town.

pork rib tips were $1.99 a pound which is about as cheap as it gets plus the yams at 99 cents a pound and I splurged on the collards which were not on sale but a good veggie addition for what I had in mind.

For the ribs:

First I prepared a flavored liquid to slow simmer the ribs in. Ribs are a tougher cut of meat and require a cooking process known as "slow and low" this refers to both the cooking time and the temperature respectively. For my liquid I used:
1/4 larger spanish onion
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper (about a table spoon of each but season to taste)
some dried red chilis (paprika would also work well here but I was using what I had on hand)
and a mix of dry herbs about a teaspoon each of thyme and oregano
3 cups of water and one beer (PBR worked for me as it was cheap but any type of beer would do fine)

first you will want to bring the liquid to a boil then add your pork. I purchased 3 pounds of tips and this liquid was sufficient. Once the pork is added you will need to bring the liquid back up to a simmer (DO NOT BOIL!!! BOILING MEAT WILL MAKE IT TOUGH AND CHEWY!!) turn the heat down and simmer slow and low for about 1.5 - 2 hours or untill "fork tender" this basically means that you can cut through the meat with a dull object. A fork will work, or a spoon or the back of a knife.

Here is a short video of the appropriate level of simmer. Note the rapidity of the bubbles in the broth.

during the last 45 minutes of cooking you can start your collards and sweet potato puree. I would start the collards first as they take some time to cook fully.

Here I have sliced half and onion and chopped two cloves of garlic and "chiffonade" the collards. which basically means I just sliced the whole bunch into thin strips for ease of cooking and handling.

again I have made a beer / water mixture but this time added about a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper.

then added the collards, onion and garlic

let the greens wilt (meaning they turn bright green and their volume gets drastically reduced like in the picture above) and put a lid on the pan. I have used another smaller pan as it's what was easiest to grab and the gaps will allow the liquid to reduce during the braising process.

Once the greens are wilted you will want to turn the flame way down and let simmer for upto 20 minutes or untill tender. They should look like this:

around the same time you start your greens you should have your already chopped up and peeled yam placed in a sauce pot and covered with water. Add salt to this mix to season the yams while they cook and bring them to a boil and simmer just like the ribs untill tender. I have used 3 medium sized yams for this recipe.

once tender strain off the water, return the yams to the same pot, add 1/4 pound butter a cup of milk or heavy cream and beat smooth with a whisk. After incorporating all the ingredients you will want to season with salt and pepper to taste. There are many ways to get a smoother more refined puree but for "soul food" I find a more textured or "fork mashed" yam is a better fit.

Ok so now your ribs should be just about right. Strain off the cooking liquid and lay the pieces of pork out in one even layer to cool.

Take the amount you plan on serving and place them into a sautee pan on high heat with some bbq sauce (a quick bbq recipe is 1 part molasses, 1 part vinegar and 2 parts ketchup to which you can add any number of flavorings such as chipotle peppers or spices)and toss to coat. Over high heat let the sauce come to a boil and reduce to effectively coat / caramelize your ribs.

Place it all on a plate and ENJOY! Just make sure you don't have too much to do after eating. This plate put me out for a solid 8 hours last night.