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.
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.
The Potato Pancakes
4 potatoes, peeled and grated
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of ½ lemon
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.
In a large bowl, mix the drained potatoes, onion, garlic, eggs, polenta, Romano cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.