Eddie Schoenfeld’s Potato Pancakes with Salmon Caviar

     Growing up in Detroit watching my grandmother Celia at the stove turning out marvelously crisp potato pancakes to eat with apple sauce…I burned my fingers by grabbing too soon. I would never grey the golden light of that memory but it could be that the smaller, miraculously crusty pancakes done by our friend, Eddie Schoenfeld are better. Forgive me, Grandma.

     All it takes to get Eddie frying is to bring a cache of salmon roe from Zabar’s or Russ & Daughters to dinner.

     Since pancakes are an à la minute delicacy and suffer in rewarming, each of us grabs a share as an apéritif – two or three, maybe four – and then we sit down for dinner. 

     Serves 8

For the potato pancakes:

     2 medium-sized baking potatoes (russets/Idaho)
     1 egg
     2 tablespoons flour
     ½ teaspoon salt
     ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
     ½ cup vegetable oil

     6 oz salmon caviar
     ¼ cup finely cut scallions or chives

     A food processor fitted with its shredding disc or a box grater
     A 9” black iron skillet or non-stick frying pan
     Paper towels

     Peel the potatoes and shred them either by using a box grater or a food processor and place the shredded potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add egg, flour, salt and pepper and mix well.

     Preheat your frying pan over high heat and add the vegetable oil so that it is ½” deep.

     When the oil is quite hot turn the heat to medium high and place a heaping tablespoon of pancake mixture into the oil using a tablespoon to slightly flatten the pancake. The pancake should be 1 ½ - 2” in diameter. Continue making pancakes and gently placing them in the hot oil, taking care not to crowd them too much. Cook briskly moving them from time to time to make sure they don’t stick to the pan or each other. After 2-3 minutes use a fork to pick up the edge of a pancake to see if the bottom is golden brown. When it is, gently turn the pancakes and continue to cook for 1 ½ - 2 minutes till the bottom side is golden brown. Remove browned pancakes from the oil to drain on paper towels. Dab with another towel to remove any oil still clinging to them. Continue making pancakes until all the base is used up.

     It is important to cook them as soon as the mixture is made because as the mixture sits, liquid exudes from the potato mix. If there is too much liquid accumulating in the pancake base, spoon it away before making more pancakes.

     To serve: top each pancake with a heaping teaspoon of salmon caviar and garnish with chopped scallion or chive.

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