I am not into rosti, latkes or hash browns but some of my family members are. So when the mood strikes me, I get myself some good quality starchy potatoes and make my crisp-on-the-outside soft-on-the-inside grated potato pancakes. As long as I keep it to a serving of 4, I am willingly to make them. A higher number and I recoil. It is too tediously boring standing over a hot stove frying them. However, it’s the only potato pancake I will eat. Too often, those served outside are drenched in grease, worse still, the inside is raw or horror of horrors they were clearly from a frozen bag. The type of potato you use is important and should you or should you not parboil the potatoes? I have done the testing.  All you need to do is scroll down to ‘Tips‘ and decide which option to take. These gluten free pancakes use a little chickpea (garbanzo) and corn flour to hold the potatoes together. Using chickpea flour will give you the crispiest potato pancakes as compared to using all corn flour or all-purpose(plain) flour. What to do with the rest of the chickpea flour though? Here’s an idea. Don’t they look crispy? Crispy Gluten, Dairy And Egg Free Corn Fritters.

Egg And Gluten Free Potato Pancakes With Sour Pesto Sour Cream

Prep: 30 minutes 
Cook: 30 minutes
Inactive:
Level: Intermediate
Serves: ~4 as a light meal
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes, but the frying is time consuming!
Make ahead? No

Ingredients

For the pancakes
1.65lbs (750g) starchy potatoes such as the Russet*
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1/3 cup chickpea flour**
1 Tablespoon corn flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons your choice of parsley/coriander/celery leaves
4 Tablespoons green onions
The toppings
6.76oz (200ml) light sour cream or creme fraiche
3 Tablespoons pesto or adjust to your taste
1 packet smoked salmon as much or as little as you prefer
1 packet arugula/rocket leaves as much or as little as you prefer
3 Tablespoons your choice of dried raspberries/cranberries/dates***
* Please scroll down to ‘Tips‘ to find out why I prefer using starchy over waxy potatoes.
** You could use all corn flour but they won’t fry up as crispy. If you are not on a gluten free diet, you could use all-purpose/plain flour but they would be even less crispy.
*** You need some small nugget of sweetness to offset the richness.

Method

1. Peel potatoes and grate them on the large hole side of a box grater. It means there will be a flatter and larger surface area for the potatoes to cook quickly and a better chance for the potatoes to crisp up. Drain over a colander.

2. In the meantime, heat up the frying pan that you will be using to fry the potatoes on high heat. When the pan is hot, toast the sesame seeds, stirring all the time until they are a light golden brown and some seeds would have started hopping in the pan. This would take less than 2 minutes. Sesame seeds burn easily so do not leave the stove. Remove and transfer to a plate. Left on the pan, it will burn.
3. Slice up the spring onions and parsley.
4. Wash the arugula and drain.
5. Mix the pesto into the light sour cream. Add more/less pesto to your taste. Refrigerate.
6. In a mixing bowl, mix the toasted sesame seeds, chickpea flour, corn flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
7. With hands, lightly squeeze out the excess starchy liquid from the grated potatoes but you do not want to wring them bone dry. You need some liquid for the dry ingredients to cling to and help bind the grated potato together.
8. Add the grated potato, spring onions and parsley to the dry ingredients and mix gently.

Frying up
1. Heat up the same frying pan with ~1 and 1/2 Tablespoons or so of oil on high heat. These pancakes need enough oil to fry and crisp up so don’t be too light handed with the oil and add more through the cooking process if you think necessary.
2. Loosely dollop a layer of potato mix in the heated oil. Do not pack it down and keep it to about 3/4″ (2cm) thick.
3. Drizzle another 1/2 Tablespoon of oil around the circumference of the pancake.
4. After 1 minute on high heat, reduce the heat to medium-high, cover with a lid that has an air vent and continue to cook for another 2 minutes or so until the bottom has set and is golden brown. Flip over the potato pancake. Rely not only on your watch and eyes but your nose as well, if it smells like it has browned, it’s time to flip.

5. Drizzle 1/2 Tablespoon of oil around the circumference. Cover and cook for another 1 – 2 minutes to let the potatoes cooked through.  Depending on how quickly the potatoes brown on this side, you might have to reduce the heat a little.

6. Remove the cover, check that the bottom has crisp up nicely and if not serving immediately, transfer to a cooling rack set over a baking tray.  Do not set it down directly on paper towels or a plate as the bottom will just go soggy on you with time.
7. If the oil bothers you, blot with paper towels before serving but it would certainly be less greasy than what you would have had served to you in an eating house.
8. Repeat the same process for the rest of the pancakes. Remember to start frying on high heat as it encourages the potatoes to quickly set and hold its shape. These taste best hot so eat them as soon as you can before they lose their crispness.

Tips

Three categories of potatoes:

Starchy potatoes allows you to have potato pancakes that are soft and fluffy on the inside with a nice crisp crust on the outside. This is possible if you do not fry a pancake that is too thick and if you do not pack the grated potatoes down on the frying pan. Otherwise, the insides will not be cooked through and you might end up with a soggy pancake as well.
Used for: Starchy potatoes are what you would use for mash potatoes. It makes fluffy mashed potatoes. It is also what you would use for making french fries as the outside crisp up whilst the insides stays soft. Jacket potatoes (individually baked whole potatoes in their skins) taste best using these starchy potatoes and so would a tray of roasted cut potatoes.
To identify starchy potatoes: look at its peel- rough, slightly thick and often a darker brown colour. Example: Russet, Idaho, King Edward.

Waxy potatoes might feel a little waxy on the teeth and has a firm bite. They are lower in starch and keep their shape better through cooking. I believe that is the reason some prefer to use waxy over starchy potatoes in recipes for rosti and latkes. I don’t as there won’t be any fluffy soft parts of a potato pancake to enjoy which is characteristic of starchy potatoes. Remember, the benefit of using a starchy potato is soft insides and crisp outsides. I also much prefer the delicate taste of starchy potatoes which I can eat simply boiled with just a little salt. If you cook potato pancakes the way I do (outlined in recipe above), those starchy potatoes will not lose shape or turn mashy.
Used for: Waxy potatoes would be used in stews, curries, soups, perhaps a gratin or in any dish where you want the potato to hold its shape.
To identify waxy potatoes: look at its peel- usually smooth, thin (you could possibly scratch it off with your nail) and often a more translucent shade. Example: Nadine, Fingerlings, Charlotte.

The all-rounder potatoes fall in a category that is between starchy and waxy.
Used for: Good for just about any method of cooking.
To identify all-rounder potatoes: They fall in between the above 2 categories so I usually read the label to help me identify them. Example: Yukon Gold, Desiree. The better brands will tell you what those potatoes in the bag are good for. I love Yukon Gold and I would use them in this recipe if I could get a hold of it.

To parboil or not to parboil the potatoes?
Please do not bother as I cooked potato pancakes both ways with both starchy and waxy potatoes. Why?

Parboiling starchy potatoes and then grating them is a hit and miss thing. They are floury potatoes to begin with and it is difficult to gauge how long to parboil them without risking over parboiling them and makes grating them quite a nightmare. The way I cook them, they certainly don’t benefit from parboiling.

Parboiling waxy potato turned my pancakes gummy compared to freshly grated waxy potato pancakes.

Conclusion: As long as you grate the potatoes on the large hole side of a box grater, place them loosely, keeping it about a 3/4″ (2cm) thick layer on a hot frying pan and don’t pack them down, the pancakes will cook through and be crisp and delicious but do use a starchy potato.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

A potato salad to serve the masses. Perfect to take to a potluck, BBQ, at a hotdog party… It’s actually very hearty as it is packed with ingredients and could be eaten as a meal with some salad.

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