It’s been far too long since I’ve posted a recipe, but luckily I attended another delicious PhxFoodNerd.com event and decided to cook up a couple of quick”ish” dishes. I sat in bed for a while the morning of the event deciding what to make and eventually settled on making some sort of Latke(fried potato pancake).
I’ve made my fair share of Latkes, and it’s a dish that I’ve eaten often during my Jewish upbringing, but I wanted to try a new technique that I remember reading in chef Michel Richard’s cookbook, “Happy in the Kitchen”. I was lucky enough to work an event with Chef Richard during my time at Mary Elaine’s and I was gifted his beautiful cookbook at the end of the dinner service. I find the book to be a good mix of complex techniques, innovative ideas and well executed basics.There is a recipe in his book for a potato dish, he calls “Spuddies”, which are essentially large tater tots.
I decided to use the basis of this recipe and do some minor tweaking to make larger, thinner Spuddies, and top them with Smoked Salmon, Chives and a whipped Cream Cheese mix. The Latkes, which were a perfect vehicle for the Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese, had a super crispy texture on the outside, and a soft pillowy interior. Here’s how to make them:
Faux Latkes with Smoked Salmon
1.5 lbs Potatoes
1 Tbsp Powdered Gelatin
3 Tbsp Diced Scallions
2 Tbsp Wondra Flour
1 Tbsp Corriander
For Salmon and Cheese Garnish:
8 oz Cream Cheese
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
2 Tbsp Chives, diced
4 oz Sliced Smoked Salmon or Nova Lox
Chives for Garnish
Conola or Peanut Oil for frying
Sea Salt to finish
This recipe will make about 25 Latkes, and works as a great hors d’oeuvre for a party!
Clean the potatoes and slice them into quarters. I used Yukon Gold Potatoes for their thin waxy skin and fryability. You can use Russets, but be sure to skin them first. There are 5 potatoes in the picture, but I ended up using about 3 and a half, about 1.5 lbs worth.
Put the potatoes into a food processor with 2 cups of water. Pulse on high until you have small, 1/4 inch sized chunks.
This is what the mix should look like.
Rinse the potato shreds and try to pick out any larger chunks that may have not processed.
Dry the potatoes on a towel. Check again for larger pieces that need to be cut down to size.
Wrap the potatoes up and squeeze them to get any residual water off the potatoes.
Spread the potatoes into a single layer on a metal oven tray and sprinkle one tablespoon of powdered Gelatin over the potatoes, through a fine sieve or mesh strainer(if available).
Bake the potatoes at 350° for 5 minutes. The Gelatin will melt and the potatoes will look slightly oily.
In a mixing bowl, combine Potatoes, Wondra Flour, Coriander and Scallions. Mix well until the flour is incorporated and the potatoes are sticky.
Next, we wrap the potatoes into logs.
1- Lightly wet your counter top or cutting board and lay out a sheet of plastic wrap.
2- Place half the potato mixture in the center of the wrap, leaving at least a few inches on each side.
3- Lift the end of the wrap closest to you and overlap the potatoes, pulling back to tighten the mixture, but making sure the wrap does not get folded into the potato mix. Roll the mix up into a log shape.
4- Twist one end of the plastic wrap to form a tight end to the log. Tie with butcher’s twine. Stand the log up on end and twist the other end until the log is tight and there are no air pockets. Tie the second end with butcher’s twine. This takes a little practice, but don’t be afraid to give it a go. Alternatively, you can grab both sides of the wrap and roll the log away from you to form the shape, but during my first attempt at this, I split the plastic wrap open from over-tightening.
Once your Latke log is complete, put the potatoes in the freezer for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Don’t leave them in the freezer more than 1 1/2 hours or they can start to discolor. I made two different shaped logs to test out a wider and thinner variation. Both worked well, so its up to you what shape you’d like. While your Latkes are freezing, prepare your oil for frying at 350°-375°
Slice the log into slices of desired thickness. I used about 3/4″ thickness, but you can go a bit thinner or thicker, depending on your use. Make sure to remove the plastic wrap carefully and completely before frying.
Fry the Latkes until golden brown at about 350°. Keep an eye on the oil temperature because it will cool as you add the frozen potatoes. If you want to make thicker potato cakes or large Spuddie tots, fry once to brown at 375° and then again to finish cooking at 325°. These only needed the single frying.
Lightly salt the potatoes as soon as they are out of the oil.
Transfer the Latkes to a paper towel to drain, and then a sheet pan to cool slightly before topping them.
I prepared a topping of 8 oz of Cream Cheese, which I whipped with 1/2 cup of Whole Milk and a large handful of diced chives.
Finish the Latkes with the Smoked Salmon, whipped Cream Cheese topping, and fresh Chives.
The creamy cheese, smokey salmon and delicious crunchy potato remind me of eating Lox and Bagels as a kid, and puts a smile on my face. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!