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Potato pancakes....tried and tried...but still fail...

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Had a potato pancake at Le Coupe Chou in Paris...that was heaven in the form of starch and butter.


it seemed simple....lots of butter, heck, might as well grow the potato in butter......and some potato...

It seems like they "match stick" the potatos....so not shredded or anything but very very very thin "match sticks"

it was a perfect crust....and perfect taste.....AND it "stayed together!"

wish I had a picture.

how to I replicate? get it to stay together?

I practiced my knife skills the other day, made those fancy match sticks as thin as I can, almost like a bunch of needles.....and still either stuck to the pan, didn't get a crust, and none of them stuck together....

should I blanch first? where does the butter come into play....
post #2 of 33
The restaurant may have used a mandolin to cut the potatotes.
Then there are a zillion other factors, like what kind of potatoes, and how they were treated. Most places will squeeze as much water as possible out of them after being cut, some will boil the spuds in their skins first, others will mix raw, squeezed out spuds with egg or flour.

Then there's the butter. The higher the fat content of the butter, (many N.American butters start at 80%, higher quality ones start at 84-85%) the less water there is in there, the better the flavour, and--of course, the higher the cost...
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #3 of 33

Your description's a little sketchy but at a guess you had had pommes Paillason. It's a stone classic. Not difficult but exacting. You've got to follow the directions very closely the first few times until you get a feel for what's going on -- then you can be a little more casual. The dangers are over-cooking, under-cooking, scorching the butter (bitter), not heating the butter enough (greasy), and falling apart. Turn off the phone and bring your nose.

Pommes Paillason

3 medium russet potatoes, about 3/4 lb total. Peeled and cut julienne (may be grated or even cut lyonnaise)
(Optional) herbs as desired
Salt and pepper
4 - 6 tbs butter, cut into tbs size pieces and divided
2 tsp oil, divided

8-10" skillet, seasoned carbon steel (best), seasoned cast iron (not as responsive to heat changes, so not quite as good), or non-stick (not as good, the potatoes release too easily).

Peel the potatoes, then grate or cut in julienne. Put the potatoes in a bowl, cover them with water and drain. Cover with water again and allow to soak for between 20 mintues and 2 hours. Drain the potatoes and dry them thoroughly between towels. When they are dry, toss them with salt, pepper and herbs if desired.

Preheat the pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add 1 tsp of oil. When the oil shimmers, remove the pan from the flame and immediately add 3 tbs of butter. Swirl the pan, to distribute the butter and return it to the flame. When the butter melts and the foam begins to subside, put the potatoes into the pan, and spread them evenly. Press them gently with a spatula or the back of a spoon, to make sure they are (moderately) compressed and of even depth.

By this time the butter should be fragrant (hazelnuts), if not allow an extra minute or two, then reduce the heat to medium so the potatoes will cook through. After about 8 minutes the edges should be well browned, and the galette ready to turn. Remember that "release" and "properly cooked" are nearly synonymous. If the galette resists moving, allow a few minutes.

When it is ready, slide it from the pan on to a plate. Return the pan to the flame, raise the flame medium-high and add the remaining oil and butter exactly as before. When the foam has subsided, return the galette to the pan by inverting it, raw side down. Allow the potatoes to begin cooking at this heat until the butter is fragrant, then reduce to medium as before. The galette will require about five minutes to finish cooking.

Note: It's important to use a very dry potato. Russets are perfect.

Note: You can cook a large galette as above, and serve it cut in wedges, or make smaller single-serving galettes. The amount of butter should be proportional to pan size more than the amount of potato.

Note: Galettes like these are excellent plated as the base for sauced "proteins." A modern-classic presentation.

Note: Re knife technique -- I know what kind of cook's knife you use. Julienne should be as narrow as the spine of the knife between the handle scales, and about as long as the distance between the first and third rivets. If you can't get them down to 2 or 3mm across, the potato will cook too slowly. For a project this size, it's worth using a mandoline or a grater.

post #4 of 33
In Scotland, Potato cakes are a pre-requesite to a sunday breakfast.

8oz Mashed floury potatoes
Enough Plain flour to make a soft yet firm dough
Sand P
Roll into 1/4 inch thick circles and cut in quarters
Fry in Bacon fat
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
post #5 of 33
Thread Starter 
awesome, I'll give it a try, I think i was just being too impatient and not cooking nearly long enough. Also, I was not soaking at all, just rinsing and drying.

Magret of Duck with Peaches and Darphin Potatoes 20 € was the exact dish.
post #6 of 33
Sound's like it would splash hot oil quite a bit. Usually, I see this step as inverting on to the plate from the pan and then slipping it back into the pan when ready. As most of the oil will have absorbed in the potatoes I have yet to have hot oil drip on my arm with this method. Though some oil has dripped off the plate, I've learned to do this over the sink.

Any particular reason to invert from a plate into a pan of hot oil?

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #7 of 33
Thread Starter 
armed with the right french words and BDL's info I found this, which looks **** near exact.

I have some pictures of my "trials" I'm going to upload later.

Pommes Darphin ou pommes paillasson
post #8 of 33
So the bottom fries. Your safety method is a good one.

post #9 of 33
Loved the pictures. So, all of these years I've been doing it right? Who knew?

post #10 of 33
Yes, and I have a few scars to prove it....

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #11 of 33

Chef Ed

The place I ran in New York was Banquet only I would say we made at least 10000 potato pancakes (Latkas)a week. We found an easy way to do it. You can use whatever mix you like only dont saute them. Place them on a greased sheet pan.Bake at 350 till they set and can be removed from pan. you can then finish them later either sauteed or ,easier yet deep fried. They can also be frozen for later use..The same mix can be fully baked cut in triangles or squares and served as potato pudding (Kugel)which is very popular in Jewish Cuisine
post #12 of 33

Nu? Latkes?

An efficient method for making large quantities of institutional latkes. However, latkes are not pommes paillason (or darfin), they are much more kartoffelpuffer.

Also, latkes are traditionally pan fried in a generous amount of oil. Pan frying and sauteing are very different techniques in that heat is transferred to the food in a saute largely through contact conduction with the bottom of the pan, and by immersion conduction with the oil in a pan fry. To step away from the science a little -- saute uses very little fat. We're often a little loose with our terminology and refer to all hot-pan technique as saute, but it isn't.

The oil has quasi-religious significance with its echoes of the oil that we lacked to keep the eternal flame burning in the holy of holies during the conflict with the Antiochean armies after the Maccabean revolution.

The art of making latkes, at least in quantities small enough to be cooked a minute (interesting language switches) is in making a batter (or mix, if you prefer) and using a pan technique which combine to allow very little cooking fat in the pancake. FWIW, the best latkes are fried in oil which has been flavored with goose or duck fat.

Kartoffel (potato) kugel is a good thing, but a lokshen (noodle) kugel is heaven.

No, please Grandma. I couldn't eat another bite. Well, okay.
post #13 of 33
BDL - you've pretty much nailed it WRT latkes and kugel. I think grandma Bessie used chicken fat when making her latkes - much more available for poor Jews in Da Bronx than duck or goose.

Grandma Bessie's lokshen kugel was exquisite. I've tried more than a dozen recipes over the years, often modifying them several times to get the Bessie taste and texture that I so loved. Do you have a lokshen kugel recipe I could try? Feel free to start a new thread or send privately - I don't want to go any more off topic here.

Shel (Happy Hebe from The Big Apple - OY!)
post #14 of 33

Grandma Elsie's Not Too Sweet Lokshen Kugel

I don't think RPM will mind.


16 oz pkg wide egg noodles
8 oz (2 sticks butter), divided (one stick cut into 8 pieces, the other whole and room temp)
8 oz pkg cream cheese, room temp
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 doz eggs
1/3 cup raisins (soaked in brandy)
1/4 cup slivered almonds
12 oz jar apricot preserves, divided
1/2 tsp (approx) ground cinnamon


Boil noodles just slightly al dente. Drain. Place in a large mixing bowl, then toss with 7 of the 8 pieces of butter until the butter melts and the noodles are well coated. Reserve the remaining piece of butter. Reserve the noodles.

Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining stick of butter, the cream cheese and the sugar together until light and well creamed. Add the lemon juice and beat until incorporated. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until incorporated. Stir the raisins and almonds into the custard.

Combine the custard with the noodles.

Grease a 9x13 pan well with the last piece of butter. Layer 1/3 of the noodle mix in the bottom of the pan. Spoon half the apricot preserves on top, distributed as evenly as possilbe. Add another layer of noodles and another layer of apricots. Add the remaining noodles. Dust the top with cinnamon.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 45 minutes until the top browns and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Hope you like,
post #15 of 33

Grandma Elsie's Not Too Sweet Lokshen Kugel


Thanks for taking the time to post the recipe - much appreciated.

I'll give it a try sometime soon. It seems pretty sweet for me, what with the sugar and preserves. How would the recipe work with cottage cheese instead of cream cheese?

post #16 of 33
Thread Starter 
Tried.....yet again....



maybe because I used a cheap non-stick (only pan I had left)

this was the first one.....went to flip it over and the bottom was black..:(

some other pics of other attempts...

they just come out gray and a little soggy. ....just plain ol' frumpy

not like this

too much butter on too hot? they certainly didn't turn that golden yellow color.....:(
post #17 of 33
No 1 problem: Pan too big for the amount of potatoes. The pan has to form the shape. Potatoes not piled thick enough -- a function of the wrong size pan.

I'm not sure what "too much butter" means in terms of French cooking. "Too much" and "butter" don't belong in the same sentence. But maybe. Next time, try cutting amount in half.

Too hot? It would seem so.

Grayness is usually a sign of oxidation which itself is often a function of not soaking the potatoes long enough or leaving them in the air too long.

post #18 of 33
Thread Starter 
I soaked for about 45 minutes....and went right from the papertowel pat press dance to the pan.

Next time I'll try with my 8inch stainless??

the potatoes are somewhat old....had them in the fridge about 2 weeks maybe that is something?

at least the ribeye came out good and the carrots came out good. :)
post #19 of 33
I APPEARS FROM YOUR PICTURE THAT PAN WAS TO THIN, FIRE TO HIGH, AND TRY USING CLARIFIED BUTTER. As far as grey try adding a drop0 of citric acid when soaking potatoes(real Lemon will do) Also by keeping spuds in the frige you bring out more of the sugar content and they will brown faster. Good luck. Chef ed
post #20 of 33
Think of the pan as a flashlight battery: The thicker the pan, the more heat (energy) it can hold and then give off. The thin non-stick pans are great for eggs and thin delicate items, but tend to either burn or give off hot spots with items that require longer cooking times. A heavier pan will produce a more attractive crust.

Don't give up now, you almost have the thing licked.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #21 of 33
there's no harm in continuously trying!
post #22 of 33
Thread Starter 
only other pan I have are my good stainless, but I'm afraid of sticking.....just some non-stick spray and some butter will be OK.
post #23 of 33
Mmmm, I wonder.... could a cut-out disc of silicone paper (a.k.a. baker's paper, a.k.a. parchment paper) directly on top of the pan, underneath the pototoes work?
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #24 of 33
I hate to even say so on this thread, but I have used par-cooked potatoes from the dairy section of the grocery store. The brand is "Simply Potatoes". They have no preservatives and are not reconstituted anything. I use them to make latkes for my temple's Chanukah parties.

To one bag of Simply Potatoes hash browns, add:
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons grated onion (fresh- not the dried stuff!)
1 tablespoon AP flour
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix well. Fry in hot oil in a nonstick pan.

These will not turn black, grey or any other color than golden brown!
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post #25 of 33
I've used those several times and the results have always been very good. I've cooked them in stainless and never had any sticking problems, cooked in a cheap non-stick, and also in cast iron, also with no problems. I've not tried them in my carbon steel omelet pan though.

RPM - maybe you just need nore practice with stainless. When I first started with SS there were some sticking problems, but over time the problems have disappeared. I've even cooked turkey burgers in an ungreased SS skillet with no sticking. I really don't know what I do that's any different than what other people do, based on their messages here and in other venues.

post #26 of 33
Thread Starter 
I'm going to pull this off tonight...or have fun trying.....
post #27 of 33
Thread Starter 
I came I saw....I almost conquered...

I slice the potatoes really thin on a mandolin (paper thin) then julienne .

Wow that actually LOOKS like something!!!!!!!!!!!

still have to cook the other side....

overall, compared to the other results....a success, however It's still no Le Coupe Chou......it was just a LITTLE soggy and didn't hold together as best as It could, although better than I expected....
post #28 of 33
Not only looks a lot better, looks pretty darn good. Well done. I see you're letting the pan shape your galette which is a big part of the battle.

I see two slight problem areas: First, still not enough potatoes in the pan. You need to get your potatoes in there a bit thicker. They look a little too flat on the plate, too much like tuille, and not enough like cakes. I'd guess that upping the quantity in the pan you're using by 25% would get it close. The weight of the potatoes themselves will press the final product down almost as thin but the center will have that almost velvety texture you're still looking for.

Possible other problem, but very slight: Wrong kind of potatoes or potatoes need to be younger or older or something like that. At Petit Chou, they're no doubt quite particular. I forget whether they're supposed to be aged or fairly fresh out of the ground. I also forget which type the French use. It's not a russet, it's something we don't have.

A lot of people have been pushing latkes at you, and if you want potato pancakes instead of getting as close to the Petit Chou galette as possible there are some good recipes running around. Including (ahem) mine. That said, Mezzaluna's looks like a good one.

post #29 of 33
Thread Starter 
thanks, I'll do some research on the type of Potatos.....I used russet as per your recipe, but I agree, I think another type of potato must be used. I used i think 4 potatoes in an 8inch pan. I felt the thickness was the same as chou, but it was a little soggier and not as delicate to the mouth.

...until next time...................

post #30 of 33
Thread Starter 
a few recipes I looked at said not to rinse the potatoes...as the starch will hold it together better?
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