These light potato pancakes are fabulous with a little sour cream, smoked salmon and a sprig of dill. For a heartier brunch, add a poached egg. You can even serve potato pancakes with roasted pork and a little applesauce for a comforting dinner.
Executive Chef Robert Gerstenecker and Pastry Chef Charles Barrett of Park 75 Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta whipped up these potato pancakes on a portable griddle at the Morningside Market. During the demonstration, they provided plenty of tips on how to prepare potatoes and incorporate them into different dishes.
They even brought potato donuts with a Meyer Lemon glaze and a simple German potato salad without bacon to share with the crowd. Everyone raved about the potato inspired foods and asked for the recipes. The potato salad recipe is at the very bottom and can be served with these potato pancakes. The potato donuts warranted a separate post with specific instructions so you can make them at home.
So do you know when is the best time to buy fresh potatoes? Most people assume potatoes are harvested in the fall or winter months but it is mainly in spring and summer depending where you live. Freshly harvested, local grown potatoes are juicy and tender unlike the ones you buy stacked in the grocery store bins or packaged in sacks. You will be shocked at the difference.
Burge Organic Farm was just featured in the AJC for their potatoes. The farm manager, Cory Mosser of Burge Organic Farm said the cool spring and light rain created the right conditions for a banner crop. Mosser is growing five varieties of potatoes this season: a purple-skinned potato called “Purple Viking” perfect for donuts and pancakes, a waxy Yukon Gold and russet potato ideal for potato salads and mashed potatoes, a fingerling called “La Ratte” that the famous French chef, Joel Robuchon states he uses to make his version of mashed potatoes known as “La Puree Pomme de Robuchon,” and a red skinned potato called “Mountain Rose” which can be riced for crispy hash browns. These fresh potatoes will keep for three weeks in a cool, dry place unlike the ones in the stores that may sit for 6 months.
I highly recommend trying the Peruvian purple potatoes for the gorgeous color and antioxidants. To achieve a deeper purple color, add some sugar to the boiling water and let them sit overnight at room temperature. Make sure they cool completely before covering the potatoes and do not wrap them in tin foil.
There have been cases of E. coli contamination if you do not allow them to cool down completely before covering them. Most people refrigerate potatoes but it changes the texture and can affect the recipe. These potatoes are cooked again in the batter so they can be refrigerated if prepped ahead of time. Just do not rice them until you are ready to make the batter. If you are wondering how to rice potatoes, use a food mill or potato ricer to press the potato into rice size pieces.
If you want to learn more about how to properly prep and cook seasonal ingredients, you and a group of friends should book the Chefs Table at Park 75. It truly is an experience you will remember. Robert will prepare anything you wish and can accommodate guests with allergies. Years ago before gluten free became popular he made an all gluten free meal for our friend with Celiac disease.
Robert was raised on a farm in Canada and still feels the need to stay close to nature. Robert brought honey bees to the fifth-floor terrace and replaced all the topiaries in the planters with vegetables and herbs to serve in the restaurant making Park 75 one of the only true farm-to-table restaurants. Each culinary team member is in charge of a part of the garden so they learn all aspects of food.
The bees pollinate the herbs and vegetables on the terrace as well as fly over to Piedmont Park for a change of scenery and new flowers. Their honey is drizzled over cheese plates, mixed in cocktails, and sweetens many of Charles desserts. This year some of the bees did not return to the hive which is happening all over the world due to pesticides and cold weather spells. They brought in additional honey bees from North Carolina and hope to have enough honey to bottle for their guests again. I look forward to buying a jar when they have some to spare.
1) Cook the potatoes- Clean the potatoes of any dirt on the skin. Boil water and place the cleaned potatoes in the water. Cook them whole with the skin on for about 15 minutes until tender but firm. Remove from the water and immediately immerse in cold water to loosen the skins. Drain, remove skins by rubbing off with your fingers, chop and mash with a fork until you achieve a smooth consistency. You many also use a potato ricer or food mill to ensure you get smoother and fluffier pancakes without any lumps. Note: The recipe lists sweet potatoes as the main ingredient since they are more readily available. For the market they used the Peruvian Purple variety for the fun color. Do not use a waxy potato like Yukon Gold or Fingerling for this recipe.
2) Mix the Batter- Sift together the flour, baking powder, Back to Organic Lemon Twist Himalayan salt and freshly grated nutmeg in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients (potatoes, eggs, milk and melted butter) together in another bowl. Then slowly incorporate the dry ingredients until all the flour is absorbed. If you over mix the batter, gluten forms and makes the pancakes tough.
Note: This potato pancake recipe calls for buttermilk or milk. Buttermilk gives more aeration to the batter and makes them fluffier. If you want to use buttermilk but do not have any at home, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of whole milk and let sit for 10 minutes. It will curdle slightly.
4) Bake the Pancakes- Preheat a lightly greased griddle over medium-high heat. Drop the batter mixture onto the griddle in heaping tablespoons and cook until golden brown. Flip the pancakes over once with a spatula when the surface of the batter begins to bubble. Serve warm. Enjoy!
You can tell Robert has young children with this whimsical presentation.
Here is the potato salad recipe everyone asked for at the end of the demo:
German Potato Salad – Mix 1 cup of white vinegar, 1/4 cup of a neutral oil like canola oil, and 1/2 of a white onion finely minced. Marinate for about 15 minutes to soften the onions. Then add a high quality salt and white pepper. Shave the potatoes while warm (peel skin first) then fold into the onion mixture and add the chopped green onions. Let sit for 45 minutes before serving. Add Maggi vegetable seasoning to taste.
Pictures provided by TC Brodnax