My sister is allergic to potatoes -- not in the "let me tell the waiter I am allergic to something I don't like so that it doesn't appear on my plate" way, but in the "get the ambulance, all sirens blasting, to the hospital now or else" way. Because of this, we NEVER had potatoes in the house growing up and I had rarely cooked one until I got married and then it was usually mashed potatoes or hand cut oven fries.
This is one of my favorite potato recipes to cook for myself, though French fries take the pole position for potato eating when I am dining out. A dollop of sour cream is a must here; the carrot puree that I had left over from making roasted carrot pasta with leeks (and which I thought would add some color to the dish) is optional.
In honor of my sister, I would like to state that this is also very good with sweet potatoes, to which she is not allergic.
1 medium potato -- I used a Russet. Use a large one if you are hungry.
1/3 cup leek greens, very well washed and finely julienned
1/2 tsp cornstarch (optional, but helps to crisp up the pancake further)
2 tsps butter
1 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Grate the potato lengthwise on the largest hole of a box grater. You can either peel it, or leave the peel on if the potato is organic and you are feeling lazy. Wrap all the potato pieces in a clean dish towel, squeeze well over the sink to remove as much liquid as you can. You will be surprised by how much liquid you can remove.
Mix the grated potato, leeks, cornstarch if using, and some salt together in a bowl.
Place half of the oil and half the butter in a Teflon or seasoned cast iron skillet. You do not want this pancake to have any excuse to stick. Swirl the pan around to coat the bottom with the melting butter and oil mixture and, as soon as the butter has melted, add the grated potato mixture.
Press the potato so that you crate one even layer of pancake that covers the entire bottom of the pan. Lower heat to low, season with a tiny bit of additional salt, and press down again so that the grated potato pieces start to adhere to each other. Leave alone for 8 minutes.
After 8 minutes, flip the pancake by placing a plate over the top the skillet and upending the cooking pancake into it. Take this opportunity to add the remaining oil and butter to the now empty pan and, as soon as the butter has melted, gently slide the pancake back into the pan, unbrowned side down.
Salt the surface lightly and cook for an additional 8 minutes, though I recommend that you start checking after 5 minutes by using a spatula to gently lift the pancake and see if it is cooked through and a beautiful golden-brown on the bottom.
Remove the pancake and set it on a couple of layers of paper towels. Cover with a paper towel and dab gently to remove excess oil.
Slide onto a clean plate, perhaps not as exuberantly as I did since my pancake ended up off-center and I was afraid to recenter it in case it broke apart, and garnish with sour cream. Or sour cream and salmon roe. Or sour cream and caviar. Or sour cream and frizzled leek greens. Or sour cream and a tiny dressed salad of micro greens. The common denominator stays the same, but the garnish options are endless!