Potato Leek Pancakes

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).

Potato Leek Pancakes Potato Leek Cooking Recipes

Step 1
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.

Step 2
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.

Step 3
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.

Step 4
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.

Step 5.
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.

Potato Leek Pancakes Potato Leek Cooking Recipes

Step 6
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.

Step 7
Top with more leek and anything else you’d like – we opted for a poached egg (with our secret – poaching in muffin tins).

Step 8


  1. OMG, these look wonderful.

    Thank you so much for posting this. I HAVE to give these a try.

    One question, though…the potatoes were cooked before grating? Or grate them raw?


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