i know, i know! my coworker heard of this shoulder pork ham and potato mixture and exclaimed, “what would the Jews say?!” which made me chuckle.
she is Jewish.
don’t even act like you’re afraid of eating SPAM. it’s legit, it’s tasty (and cheap! and easy! come on, you’re not afraid of hot dogs… or are you?). nutritious: not exactly. that’s why we’re mixing it with potatoes and eggs! add a bright side of crisp, tangy, quick-pickled cabbage, and you’ve got a totally well-balanced meal.
i love potato pancakes! in my version of latkes, a humble tuber is combined with tubular meat and becomes a crispy, crackly, meaty but delicate little pancake of joy. this is exactly how i want hashbrowns to taste when i go out for breakfast. except restaurant hashbrowns are never this crispy. because there’s never enough time or attention for them to get crispy. they’re flat in flavor and color, and mealy in middle. they also lack SPAM. which exudes a really heart-warming, homey flavor of ham…. just like your mom’s christmas dinner. slash bacon. slash hot dogs cooked over a campfire. like meaty, bacon-y love.
latkes are not just awesome for Hanukkah, they’re awesome for all the time! five ingredients, wham bam thank you SPAM, awesome dinner. or a welcome breakfast!… perhaps with creamed mushrooms on the side. or a poached egg on top!!
i recommend using frozen, pre-shredded hashbrown potatoes for these latkes because they’re so convenient for us working ladies (or gents) (read: a lot of the work is already done). plus they’re made to crisp up, having been stripped of a lot of their excess moisture. time-saver! if you prefer to use real potatoes, by all means do so. just make sure you give ‘em a good rinsing after shredding, and then squeeze squeeze squeeze. get them really nice and dry. they will work beautifully!
i like the communion that these pancakes bring: with dishes that are fried/cooked one batch at a time, i get my husband to sit at the kitchen’s breakfast bar and chat with me while i work. we eat as they come out. this guarantees maximum freshness and hotness (the pancakes, not me! well…. maybe me) and full-scale flavor. if i were making this for a crowd, i’d keep them warm in the oven until they were all fried. because no one wants a cold latke.
commence trying a new food! SPAM is big in Asia. only fair it should be given a proper dressing here to show off all it can really offer. OH YUM.
SPAM latkesmakes about 20 *this recipe is dairy-free, and subbing an all-purpose gluten-free flour makes it gluten-free as well
- 1 lb bag frozen hashbrowns
- 1/4 – 1/2 onion (onionize to your taste preference)
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup flour
- 12 oz can SPAM Classic
- vegetable oil for frying
a little beginning prep makes this all work together beautifully. firstly, spread the frozen hasbrowns out on a clean kitchen towel or paper towel to thaw. some of their moisture will be absorbed into the towel — handy! — and they will become unfrozen, which is also the goal. meanwhile, toss the SPAM into the freezer, which will firm it up and make it easier to shred. 20 minutes or so should do the trick.
in a large bowl, whisk the two eggs. grate the onion with a box grater, and add pulp and juices to the bowl. when the SPAM has become more firm (not solid, or it won’t come out of that can), slide it out in one piece and get it grated on the box grater. add to bowl. add hashbrowns and flour; season with pepper. since SPAM is insanely salty, i recommend cooking a pancake and tasting it before you decide if there should be additional salt in the batter or not. ok. toss everything to combine.
pour oil to 1/2-inch thickness in a large, tall-sided skillet. pre-heat on medium high. if you like, drop a single strand of shredded potato in: it should sizzle and dance when the oil’s ready.
gently shape pancakes: take 2 or 3 tablespoons of “batter” and loosely form into a very flat patty. we are not going for height here, and random loose strands become the beautifully crisp edges. don’t pack, and don’t mess with it for more than a second. carefully drop it into the hot oil, and if it falls apart in there, it’s ok. it will become a two-headed and even crispier pancake. yay!
let it sizzle away without disturbance, and when the bottoms are browned properly, you will see so from the very edges. flip pancakes (i use a combination of a spatula and tongs) and fry until browned on the other side. set aside on a paper-towel lined plate to drain. serve piping hot, with quick-pickled cabbage (recipe below) and sour cream. and beer, definitely beer.
- 1/4 head red cabbage
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp honey
- salt and pepper
slice the cabbage as thinly as you can. toss with remaining ingredients, let sit for at least 10 minutes; toss again. serve. this only gets better with time.
leftovers rating: C
it’s often said that cold latkes can be re-crisped in the oven. this is somewhat of a myth… they never really do get crisp again, and will taste somewhat of stale oil. if you have leftover batter, it will keep in the fridge for maybe two days; then you can make fresh pancakes. the pickled cabbage, on the other hand, gets better every day!