- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 24, 2008

moist and dry. The moist variety, a reddish brown moist sweet potato is often labeled a yam.

I prefer this for holiday cooking to the drier, light-brown-yellow skin and pale-flesh sweet potato that is decidedly less sweet. Though it isn’t truly a yam, the flesh is bright orange and sweeter than the lighter colored sweet potato. The starch and moisture in the russet potato helps the pancakes keep their shape and fry crisply, while the yams add a faint sweet flavor and pretty orange color.

After many attempts to find a Seriously Simple shortcut technique, I came upon this no-fail method. Instead of grating the potatoes and onions, I puree the eggs and onions in the food processor until fluffy and then pulse in the potato chunks until they resemble finely grated potatoes.

I usually test one in hot oil before I start cooking a batch to make they are seasoned just right. I like to use a small ice-cream scoop to drop the batter into the hot oil; you also can use a ladle or large tablespoon. You’ll also find a make-ahead recipe guide below.

Help is on the way:

* Wear old clothes when frying because you will smell like fried oil when you are finished.

* Use canola oil.

* Use nonstick skillets for ease in turning.

* Cook the pancakes on medium-high heat.

* This recipe easily doubles or triples if you are having a crowd.

* Have a flat wire strainer nearby to collect any particles that stay in the oil; if the oil becomes too dirty, discard and begin again.

* Don’t crowd the pan, or the oil temperature will drop, and the pancakes will become oily.

* Have a wide spatula for turning them.

* Make sure to place the pancakes on paper towels to remove any excess oil before serving.

Potato-yam pancakes

Serves 4 to 6

1 onion, quartered

2 large eggs

1 unpeeled russet potato (8 to 12 ounces), scrubbed and cut into 2-inch cubes

1 sweet potato (sometimes called a yam) (8 to 12 ounces), peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons flour

Canola oil for frying

Sour cream and applesauce for serving

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, puree the onion and eggs together until smooth and fluffy. Add the potatoes and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped but still retains some texture. Add the salt, pepper and flour and quickly process to combine. Do not overprocess. Pour the batter into a medium bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the batter sit for 15 minutes.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 3/4 inch oil over medium-high heat. Pour 1 tablespoon batter into the skillet to test the oil. If it is hot enough, the pancake will begin to sizzle and brown. Spoon a tablespoon of the batter into the skillet, leaving a little room between each pancake. Flatten them with the back of a spoon and use the spatula to round the sides, if necessary. Fry the pancakes for 2 to 3 minutes or until they are golden brown on the bottom, then turn them and brown the other side, about 2 more minutes.

Transfer the pancakes to a baking sheet lined with 2 layers of paper towels. To serve now, place the pancakes on a platter and serve immediately. If making ahead, place on a baking sheet and keep warm in a preheated 250-degree oven for up to 30 minutes. Serve sour cream and applesauce on the side.

Advance preparation: To freeze the potato pancakes, lay them on a double sheet of aluminum foil and enclose the pancakes tightly in the foil. Make sure the pancakes are cool and then place on a flat surface in the freezer. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place the foil packets on a baking sheet. Remove the top sheet of foil so that the pancakes will bake evenly. Bake the frozen pancakes for 5 to 7 minutes, or until brown and crispy.

*Diane Rossen Worthington is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Holidays.” To contact her, go to www.seriouslysimple.com.

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