Biting through the layers of fried potato with a hint of smoked apple — yes, it’s heavenly. For me, potato is always welcomed on my plate; the fluffy insides of a baked potato wrapped in a firm skin or frying left over boiled potato with chives and lemon, so simple and homely. But potato pancakes, they’re something else. Indulge around the clock (yes, breakfast) and make a butt-tonne of them — because you’ll only be kicking yourself if you don’t.
For the Smoked Applesauce:
½ cup applewood chips
4 Granny Smith apples, quartered, seeds removed
½ cup light brown sugar
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
2½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For the Potato Pancakes:
2 russet potatoes
2 sweet onions, peeled and left whole
Canola oil, for frying
1. Make the smoked applesauce: Place a piece of foil on the bottom of a large pot. Place the wood chips on the foil and layer another piece of foil loosely on top. Place the steamer insert over the wood chips. Place the apples directly onto the steam basket, flesh side down. Cover and smoke over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes or until the apples are very soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.
2. In a blender, purée the warm apples, brown sugar, salt and lemon juice on high speed until smooth. Remove and set aside. Makes 2 cups.
3. Make the potato pancakes: Using a food processor or a box grater, shred the potatoes and the onions, and season generously with salt. Transfer the potatoes and onions to a fine-mesh strainer or a kitchen towel and squeeze or wring out all of the liquid over a large bowl. Discard the liquid.
4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 2-inch ring mold, form 16 potato pancakes using large spoonfuls. Place the potato pancakes onto the baking sheet and chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.
5. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, warm 3 tablespoons of canola oil. Working in batches, fry the potato pancakes until they turn light golden brown and hold their shape, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and set aside.
6. Set a wire rack inside a paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
7. Wipe the skillet clean and place it back onto the stove over medium heat. Pour in enough oil until it reaches a depth of half an inch.
8. Working in batches, fry the potato pancakes, flipping occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, 10 to 14 minutes. Transfer the potato pancakes to the wire rack and season with salt while still warm. Serve with the smoked applesauce.
Recipe adapted from Ilan Hall, The Gorbals, Brooklyn, NY