Potato Pancakes

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I think we’re supposed to be gearing up for another cold snap this week.  I don’t know; the thermometer showed 28F today, which isn’t really all that cold compared to what it’s been, but for some reason, I just couldn’t get warm.  I sat snuggled under a blanket on the couch for about a half hour this morning, until I decided it would be better to fire up the oven in the kitchen and get cooking.  Within five minutes, I forgot all about being cold!

I had three sad little apples sitting on the shelf in the fridge that needed some attention, and I thought applesauce sounded quite delicious.   What goes beautifully with applesauce?  Potato pancakes.

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As I was grating the potatoes, I was trying to decide whether I wanted to make them as the meal, or if I wanted to make them as a side.  That’s the beauty of potato pancakes, they can be the star of the show, or the really good back up singers.

I decided that the pancakes would be the meal today, and I’d make some bacon jam too.   I found a really good recipe for bacon jam on Angela Roberts’ blog called Spinach Tiger.  I’ve never had bacon jam before, and I’ve always wanted to try it.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I wasn’t sure if I’d like meat made into a jam.  I’m happy to report that it’s delicious!  It’s sweet bacon. Sweet and oniony bacon. I can totally see what the hype was all about last year.  I will definitely make this again.  Angela’s recipe called for apples, but since I already had the apples simmering on the stove, I omitted them.

Honestly?  I think the bacon jam stole the limelight.

Potato Pancakes

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The Potato Pancakes
4 potatoes, peeled and grated
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of ½ lemon
2 eggs
¼ cup instant polenta
½ cup grated Romano cheese
1 tbsp parsley
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

1 cup vegetable oil

Grate the peeled potatoes, and mix with the lemon juice.  Drain the potatoes in a colander that has been placed over a bowl.  It takes a good hour for them to drain completely.  Or you can help them along by squeezing the liquid out of them.

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In a large bowl, mix the drained potatoes, onion, garlic, eggs, polenta, Romano cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.

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In a large frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.  Measure ½ cup of the potato mixture into the frying pan, and flatten to about ½” thick.   You should be able to cook two or three pancakes at a time.   Fry for about 5-6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Keep them warm in a 200 degree oven while you cook the rest of the pancakes.

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The Applesauce
3 apples, any kind, peeled and cut into cubes
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon

In a large saucepan, add the apples and water.  Cover and simmer over medium heat until the apples are softened.   Remove from heat.  Add the brown sugar and cinnamon.

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At this point, you can either mash the cooked apples by hand with a potato masher, or  pulse them a few times in a food processor.  It really depends on your “chunk” preference.  My family tends to like their applesauce smooth, so I use my food processor.   Store in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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The Bacon Jam
1 pound bacon, fried crisp
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup strong coffee
¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
Pinch of cayenne
¼ cup maple syrup

In a large frying pan, fry the bacon until it’s crisp.  Drain on paper towel until cooled, and then break into pieces.

Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease from the frying pan, and add the onions, garlic, coffee, vinegar, brown sugar, and cayenne.   Cook until the onions are translucent.

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Add the bacon back to the pan along with the maple syrup.  Reduce heat, and let simmer until the bacon mixture cooks down to a jam-like consistency, about an hour.  Angela said that you can add water to the jam if it becomes too dry while it is cooking.

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Remove from heat, and pour the bacon mixture into a food processor.  Pulse a couple of times to break the bacon up, but you still want to be able to see the pieces of bacon. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Garlic Sour Cream
1 cup sour cream
1 clove garlic
½ tbsp parsley

In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, garlic, and parsley until well combined. Refrigerate.

Serve the pancakes with the bacon jam, applesauce and a dollop of sour cream. Garnish with fresh parsley or chopped chives.

Enjoy!