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POTATO PANCAKES WITH MUSHROOM SAUCE

Polish potato pancakes are like latkes, in that they are made with potatoes, grated onion and egg,then pan-fried. I make mine with gluten-free flour, but you can use ordinary plain flour. If you are Polish, placki will be a throwback to your childhood. Favourite toppings include a little butter and soured cream. They go very well with the mushroom sauce given here or with beef goulash but you can also serve them sweet, with apple sauce and/or cream and sprinkled with sugar. For savoury pancakes, add the onion and leave out the apple. If you want to serve placki with sweet toppings, such as soured cream and sugar, then add the apple instead of the onion.

You can keep the pancakes warm on a plate covered in foil in a low oven for up to 30 minutes.

Serves 4 (about 10 pancakes)

 about 650g/1lb 7oz (4 large) baking potatoes, peeled

1 small red onion (if serving savoury pancakes)

1 apple (if serving sweet pancakes)

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp gluten-free flour blend, potato flour or plain (all-purpose) flour

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying

chopped fresh dill, to garnish

For the mushroom sauce

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tsp butter

250g/9oz white mushrooms, sliced

juice of ½ lemon

100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup vegetable or chicken stock

250ml/9fl oz/1 cup single (light) cream or soured cream

Using the coarse side of a box grater, grate the potatoes and place them in a sieve or colander set over a bowl to allow some of the excess liquid to drain. Grate the onion or apple and add it to the potato. Leave to stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a low heat and fry the onion for 10 minutes, until golden and soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes, until soft. Add the lemon juice. Pour in the stock and simmer for 1 minute, then stir in the cream and leave to bubble and simmer for 2–3 minutes, until slightly thickened.

Using the back of a spoon, or your hands, squeeze out most of the excess liquid from the potatoes and onion (or apple). Put the potato mixture into a large bowl. Add the beaten egg and flour, and season with salt and pepper, then stir everything together – the mixture should be quite thick and not too dry.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Take a small handful of the mixture and flatten it in the palm of your hand to make a pancake 8–9cm/about 3½in in diameter. Carefully place in the hot oil and repeat: you should be able to fit four or five placki in the pan. Cook for 2–3 minutes, until golden, then flip and cook the other side. Transfer the placki to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat until all the potato mixture is used, adding a little more oil if necessary.

Serve the pancakes with the mushroom sauce, garnish with dill and serve a raw salad on the side.

The featured recipe is from Wild Honey & Rye: Modern Polish Recipes by Ren Behan.