My grandma made the most delicious Polish potato pancakes I’ve ever tasted. They were crispy-skinned fresh off the pan, yet very soft and delicate inside. Customary to how potato pancakes are made in Poland and the Ukraine, my grandma never shredded potatoes, she always grated them as finely as possible. That’s what gives Polish potato pancakes their peculiar delicate texture. Yes, it’s more work but, undoubtedly, well worth the extra effort.
One thing that my grandma did differently from most other recipes that I’ve seen is that she would always add a carrot to the recipe, which would give her potato pancakes better color which would stay for a long time. This little secret makes a huge difference. Do you remember the last time you made potato pancakes? Do you recall them turning grey soon after they came off the hot skillet? And the longer they stayed on the serving plate the darker they became? Potatoes oxidize and acquire an unappealing grey color. Carrots’ red-orange pigment hides potato oxidation, keeping potato pancakes wonderfully golden brown and colorful for a long time.
When it comes to eating, I love my Polish potato pancakes hot off the skillet, when they are still hot and crispy skinned. Let them sit on a serving platter for a few minutes and the crispiness will slowly vanish. When my grandma was making her potato pancakes I would circle around her, anxiously awaiting for a batch to come off the skillet, and would immediately devour them with a large spoonful of fresh sour cream and sprinkled with chopped fresh dill. I feel so hungry now!
Grandma's Polish Potato Pancakes
- 2 lbs potatoes (peeled)
- 1 medium carrot (peeled)
- 1 medium yellow onion (peeled)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 large eggs
- 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- vegetable oil for frying
- Grate the potatoes, the carrot and the onion. They need to be grated, as finely as possible, not shredded. This is what give Polish potato pancakes their peculiar texture that is quite different than when shredded potatoes are used.Using a carrot is optional but highly recommended for better color. Potato pancakes made with a carrot will retain beautiful color for a very long time and will not turn grey and unappealing when potatoes oxidize.
- Place grated vegetables in a fine-mesh colander and let drain for 10 minutes. I get about 2 cup of liquid released during this time.
- Transfer to a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Fry the potato pancakes in batches of 4, adding more oil as needed, until deep golden brown on each side.
- Serve hot, with sour cream and chopped herbs like dill, cilantro, scallions, or parsley.