Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home Scallion Potato Cake Recipe

I love potatoes; they were and continue to be my favourite root vegetable. Once as a child, when asked to draw my favourite food, I drew potatoes – or so I thought. The teacher was confused by the brown lumps on my paper, but when I explained that I couldn’t choose between mashed potatoes or french fries, she burst out laughing.

I haven’t eaten many potato cakes before, but I imagine this is what a pretty darn good potato cake tastes like. The recipe, for Keller, is baby-steps simple: grated potatoes, green onions, a touch of cornstarch to bind, and salt and pepper. The recipe in the book calls for you to make 8 to 9 inch cakes, but I opted for 5 to 6 inch cakes so I would be able to flip them easily.

Because there’s isn’t much of a binder to hold the potatoes together, the key to this recipe is patience. Make sure your cakes have a nice golden brown bottom crust before you attempt to flip.

Mike and I enjoyed these hot, out of the pan without anything, but I think they’d taste amazing with sour cream. I’m sure Keller didn’t intend this, but I might just have to make this my go-to recipe for hash browns!

Scallion Potato Cake Recipe adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home

1 large russet potato
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
canola oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel and grate potatoes by hand or if you have a food processor, with the coarse shredding blade. Transfer the shredded potatoes to a large bowl of cold water and swirl and rinse the potatoes. Lift them from the water and dry in a salad spinner and transfer to a large dry bowl. Sprinkle the cornstarch around the sides of the bowl and toss the potatoes to coat.

Heat some canola oil in a non-sticke frying pan (I used cast-iron) over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Turn down the heat to medium. Add enough potatoes to spread into a 5 to 6 inch circle. Do not press down on the potatoes; you want to keep the cake light and airy. Sprinkle a generous amount of green onions on the cake, season with salt and pepper and top with more potatoes. Cook for 6-7 minutes to brown the bottom. If needed, add a bit of canola oil to the pan; you want to hear the potatoes sizzling. Carefully turn the pancake to brown the second side and cook until it is browned and crisp. Enjoy hot!

12 Comments add yours

  1. Potato pancakes are great! I love fish fries that have potato pancakes.
    And so many renditions, latke, rosti, the ones made with mashed potatoes. With Milwaukee being a German/Polish city with a Jewish neighborhood, I was able to try them all.

  2. These look great. I’ve always made potato cakes with leftover mashed potatoes mixed with egg and flour (or corn starch), a little chopped parsley and chopped onion. Fried in a skillet or dropped by big spoon fulls in deep fryer (call ‘em potato puffs). Glad I Stumbled Upon this site.

  3. I just stumbled on yo your site and I have to say it is quite amazing!

  4. Looks so moist! Reminds me of turnip cake.

  5. I should make this gor my tot! He’d love this :)

  6. I would have to also say that potatoes are my favorite root vegetable. They are so versatile, comforting, and flavorful when combined with the right kind of ingredients and spices. These potato cakes look absolutely perfect. I’m bookmarking this recipe promptly. Fantastic photos by the way.

  7. This sounds so good – and thank you for the reminder about lightness, I always forget and press down on potatoes when I cook something like this. Oops.

  8. Is that your knife? Or from the book.It looks rustic.

    It’s a carbon steel Japanese chef’s knife. It’s super sharp; I love it!

    steph on August 22nd, 2010 at 9:26 am
  9. Just made these too – they are luscious! Have to say, I found that the key was using the finest grater possible to get the skinny, nest-like strands showcased in the photograph in Keller’s book. If you have a box grater, I’d suggest trying using small strands next time. They were so light with the most perfect texture ever.

  10. when my grandmother made LATKES she always used an ACME grater.It was the best. Though mine is 60 years old it makes the best and i do not know if you can find them anymore. It looks like wire “x”s and lies flat on the bowl.
    I was always taught to wring my potato/onion mix till dry and then add a little of the starch back into the potatoes. I add an egg and scant flour and use very hot crisco from the can.
    However you enjoy them: what can be better than this?

  11. could I cook these and freeze them and reheat in the oven

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