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Gluten-Free German Food: Easy Potato Pancakes with Fruit Compote
Traditional breakfast pancakes have become more pricey to enjoy now that my family needs to stay away from gluten, but an easy potato pancake mix is both inexpensive and harmless. Of course, depending on your sensitivity to gluten, you may need to make sure the mix is certified gluten-free instead of just free of wheat products on the ingredients list, but even these mixes are easy to find and fairly inexpensive. More savory than the “butter and syrup” variety, potato pancakes are traditionally served with sour cream and/or a fruit sauce or compote. I like to fry a bit of pork to round out the meal. It does make a good breakfast; but in the dark, cold days of winter, we like to enjoy this comfort food at suppertime.
Keep it simple
I refuse to be bothered too much by the need to cook dinner, so potato pancakes at my house are made from a box. There are several gluten-free varieties available. The blue box you see in the pictures is a mix from Germany that you can purchase at World Market. Most grocery stores that have a kosher section will also have a selection of potato pancake mixes, as will most health-food stores. Like boxed cake mixes, they will only require added water and perhaps an egg or some oil.
This year we have found good apples on sale throughout the winter. If you are not so lucky, prepared applesauce will do, or you can make compote with reconstituted dried fruit.
5 or 6 medium to small apples
1 c water
½ c raisins or dried cranberries
½ c dried cherries (optional)
1 ½ teas cinnamon
¼ teas cloves
sugar or honey
Peel and slice 5 or 6 medium to small apples. (Use a flavorful breed that isn’t too tart. Macintosh or Jonathan work best for me.) Place in a large saucepan. Add water, dried fruit, and spices. Sweeten as desired. I use either 2 tablespoons of white sugar or a single tablespoon of honey. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about half an hour or until apple pieces are cooked through.
When I took pictures of this meal, I was making some thin-sliced breakfast pork chops to enjoy with the meal. That’s what was on sale at the market. Sometimes I fry up crispy bacon instead. Other times I let the potato pancakes and fruit compote stand alone.
Putting it all together
Often the hardest part of cooking a new meal is having everything ready at the same time. Here’s how I get this meal on the table:
Start with the fruit compote. You can peel and slice the apples early if you like. Make sure to cover them with water or sprinkle them with a little lemon juice to keep them from turning brown if you do this.
While the fruit is simmering on the back burner, mix up the potato pancakes. Then set them aside while you fry the meat (most mixes will require a “set up” time of about 10 minutes for the pancake batter anyway). If you are using bacon, fry the meat and then use the leftover grease to fry the pancakes. If you are using pork chops, you can use a separate skillet or griddle surface for each item.
When frying the pancakes, use a tablespoon to drop batter onto the griddle or skillet. They should be the size of silver-dollar pancakes or a little bit larger. Like the sweeter variety of pancakes, you will know it is time to flip them when a few tiny bubbles appear on top of the cake.
Serving it up
Now it’s time to bring the bounty to your table. I keep a bowl of sour cream handy for those who like it over their pancakes. The fruit compote will also go well on or beside the pancakes or the meat.
If it’s an extra special evening, those that finish their dinner might get some ice cream for dessert (even during the winter). There are several gluten-free options available. Our favorite is Breyer’s Natural.