German Potato Pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer) was one of the delicious introductions to my father’s culture that he shared with his family as we were growing up. There were a number of German dishes that he made over the years (Schnitzel und Spaetzle, Kaiserschmarren, and Strammer Max being some of my favorites), but these potato cakes have got to be at the top of my list. They are easy to make, taste extraordinary, and are incredibly versatile, being able to eat them as a main or side dish, and having the option to serve them as a savory or sweet treat.
My father never had a recipe that he followed, more so a general rule of thumb to use as a guide when whipping up this magical batch of shredded and pan fried potatoes. I was recently craving a batch of these, and made some for breakfast, opting to serve them savory with sour cream and chopped chives.
6 Russet Potatoes
1/2 Medium Onion
2-3 Tablespoons of Flour
Pinch of Salt
Pinch of Pepper
Oil for Pan Frying
Peel and shred all potatoes and drain of excess liquid. (I take a handful at a time and squeeze the small batches, ringing out the excess, starchy water.) Cut onion in half, shred finely. Place into a mixing bowl, and mix in 3 beaten eggs and the shredded onion. Add flour, salt, and pepper. Mix until blended and drain any liquid that pools up around the edges.
Coat a skillet with an even layer of oil, heat on medium to medium-high heat. Drop heaping spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil, lightly flatten with the back of your spoon/spatula. Cook on each side until medium golden brown, approximately 3-5 minutes per side depending on skillet heat.
The ratio of potatoes to eggs is the main rule of thumb to follow with regards to a “recipe.” For a smaller batch, simply cut down the ratio of potatoes to 2 to 1 (2 potatoes to 1 egg) or increase it as necessary (e.g., 10 to 5). Adjust the amount of onion and dry ingredients accordingly.
Serve with sour cream or butter and chopped chives for a savory treat, or serve with applesauce, jam, or preserves for a sweet delicacy.
Don’t expect any leftovers, because these do NOT last long!