I was on Twitter on Saturday night when I saw Joel Solish (he also has a great website called Community Foodist) mentioned he was cooking “Keller’s Scallion Cakes.” I was only online for a few minutes and didn’t have time to chat but I reached for my copy of AdHoc at Home and confirmed the recipe was in there.
If you’re looking for more info on Thomas Keller, I posted my impressions of an lengthy interview I had the chance of seeing live this winter here. AdHoc at home is intended to be practical recipes for the home chef.
When it comes to potatoes I am a sucker for eating them crispy: fried, hashed, chipped and even the top layer of scalloped potatoes all get me excited. I was thrilled with the results of yesterday’s breakfast though there’s a few touched below that I think makes our approach a little different than shown in the book (in part because we don’t have a salad spinner).
Peel and grate potatoes, slice leeks or scallions thin. We used the food processor for the potatoes.
Rinse the potatoes in cold water before drying thoroughly – this is the stage that we were asked to use our non-existent salad spinner and knowing that dry potatoes were key, we used the method I use for herbs: plant the shredded potatoes in the middle of a clean dish towel and twist each end, squeeze the middle and get the liquid out.
Sprinkle corn starch around all surfaces of a bowl and toss the grated potato in – this helps distribute the corn starch. Toss the potato around and add more starch. The original recipe called for a 1/4 cup for 3 pounds of potatoes – I didn’t measure but I was liberal with the starch as this will help the browning and the binding of the ingredients.
Heat a pan with the vegetable oil of your chosing. Make it hot – medium high until it is almost smoking. Back to medium at this point.
Add the potato (it should start to sizzle. We made 8-10 inch circles. Do not press down (we gathered the outsides to make them a bit more circular). After a layer of potato, add a layer of leeks and season with salt and pepper. Add another potato layer. Ours looked impossibly thick – almost an inch high and worked out great.
You should be hearing sizzling – if not, add heat and/ or a touch of oil. Set a timer and wait at least 6 minutes per side. It’s difficult to wait this long as you’re sure it will burn – it won’t.
There are two tricks to the flip. The first is to ensure you’ve waited a full 6+ minutes on side 1. If you have, you’ll have a crispy wafer to flip over. The second trick is confidence – do it like you mean it and it will work out.
Golden, crispy and a soft chewy (cooked) center. Pure Fabulousness. You can keep individual cakes warm in the oven at 200 degrees while you cook the others.
Top with more leek and anything else you’d like – we opted for a poached egg (with our secret – poaching in muffin tins).