Perfect Potato Pancakes

These extra-crispy potato pancakes are hot off the waffle iron and just in time for fall, when warm comfort food is a welcome treat.

Once your family and friends peg you as a "foodie," count on never getting another gift that isn't food-related. My kitchen closets are filled with utensils and appliances that I might use only once in a blue moon, and even my obligatory Father's Day ties are festooned with images of lobsters and biscotti. Thank heavens for the annual neighborhood sidewalk sale where I can "redistribute" my extra melon ballers, garlic choppers and mango slicers.

I've found, though, that certain gadgets end up coming in handy on a regular basis. For instance, I use my Foley food mill every time I need to remove the seeds and skin from canned tomatoes to make sauce. The food mill, a relatively low-tech piece of equipment, is the way people used to puree carrots, squash and apples before the advent of the food processor and the hand blender. And in many cases, it still does a better job than its high-tech successors.

Another gadget I use often is my Belgian waffle maker. Most households probably have one of these stuck up in the closet or down in the basement next to the peanut-butter maker and the slow cooker. But I keep mine handy in the cabinet just below my work counter. It gets dragged out regularly for creating breakfast and brunch waffles and seasonally for making potato pancakes. This time of year, I love to make a dinner of German-style potato pancakes with lots of warm, homemade applesauce on the side. If there's a pork chop to go along with them, all the better.

The advantage of using the waffle iron is that you can seriously reduce the amount of fat in the finished dish, and the nonstick surfaces mean that there is very little clean-up. The deep indentations mean that there's more surface area and more crunch in every bite. So give these fall favorites a try. You may even decide to make room for your waffle maker on the counter.

Potato "Waffle" Pancakes
Makes six 4-by-4-inch waffles


6 medium potatoes
1 medium onion
2 eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil (for oiling the waffle maker)

Peel the potatoes and shred them into a large bowl. Shred the onion into the same bowl and mix thoroughly. In another bowl, mix the eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper into a loose batter. Press as much liquid out of the potato-and-onion mixture as possible. (Note: I use a potato ricer to extract the water.)

Mix the potatoes with the batter. Heat the waffle iron and brush both sides with a coating of vegetable oil. Place a generous amount of the potato mixture into the iron and close the lid, pressing down slightly. Cooking time will vary according to your waffle maker, but you can check after about 3 minutes to see if the potatoes are nicely browned.



3 pounds apples, washed and quartered
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup water

Add all of the ingredients to a large pot over high heat. When the water starts to boil, reduce to low and cook, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let the apples cool. Pass through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds. Adjust seasoning to taste.

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