Russian cuisine will always be comfort food for me. I get really excited when I come to visit my grandmother and she treats me to a plate of blinis or a borscht. Watching the women in my family spend hours in the kitchen, I assumed that most Russian recipes take forever, are really complicated, and there was no way I would ever be able to learn to follow them. It was not until somewhat recently that since I clearly did not absorb these recipes by cultural osmosis, I started asking questions. It turns out that for the most part, Russian recipes are no more difficult than any others.
These potato pancakes are a favorite dish of mine. My grandmother makes them with some regularity, usually when the family gathers to mark an occasion of some sort. Occasionally, a plateful turns up at my parents house around the same time as I come to visit, but it has been happening less frequently as of late. Luckily, now that I have the recipe, I can make these anytime I have a craving for them.
2 lbs cooked mashed potatoes
1 large egg, beaten
2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting and hands
1 large onion, chopped
2 lbs ground chicken or turkey
salt and pepper
olive oil, for sauteeing and frying
Sautee onions in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add ground chicken and cook until the chicken is no longer pink, breaking up the larger pieces as necessary. Set aside to cool down. Wipe out the pan and add more oil, you will use this for frying the pancakes later.
Place about a tablespoon of flour into a shallow plate (for flouring the pancakes). You can add more later if you run out.
Mix the mashed potatoes, egg, and flour until a smooth dough forms. You have to either keep your hands moist with water or floured to prevent the potatoes from sticking to your fingers – I went with water. Take about a tablespoon of the potato mixture and flatten against your hand. Add about a teaspoon of the filling, and roll the potato “pancake” around the filling, sealing the seam.
Roll the pancake in flour, and add to the pan.
Frying over medium heat, cook until each side is golden brown.
These go really well with sour cream. Unfortunately, once I was done frying, these pancakes disappeared rather quickly and never made it into an “official” plated picture.