When we were in Napa, we drove to Yountville and saw Thomas Keller's restaurant Ad Hoc. We didn't go, partly because I really didn't know much about the restaurant and just assumed that, with a pig as the main decor, it was a restaurant that was heavy on meat. Instead, we ate at Michael Chiarello's restaurant, Bottega (I'm pretty sure I saw him walk past me a few times while I was sitting in the courtyard waiting for our table, too). Fast forward to Christmas 2011. Joel had put the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook on his wish list, so I purchased it. While picking it up at the store, I flipped through a copy and noticed that it was far from what I had originally expected. I read the story about how the restaurant came to be and what types of meals they serve, and while Bottega was excellent, I was immediately sorry that we passed up the chance to give Ad Hoc a try. I guess that means that we will just have to make another trip out to Napa some day! So, a few days after Christmas, Joel and I parked ourselves on the floor with his new cookbook and a package of sticky notes. We flipped through every page and flagged the recipes that we liked the most. This recipe was one of them. The concept of scallion potato cakes is so simple, yet when cooked, they taste so wonderful! We made these as a side dish to steak (and even though I asked Joel to pick up a veggie as the other side, he brought home macaroni salad, so we had that too...). I wish that we would have planned only these cakes to be our meal, because it would have given me an excuse to eat more! Joel had leftovers for breakfast the next morning, and said they were even good then! I will definitely make these again and again.
3 pounds Russet Potatoes
1/2 cup Cornstarch
Salt and Pepper
Cut the scallions into thin slices, reserving 1/4-cup for garnish, and set aside. Peel the potatoes, then shred them (you can use a food processor to do this, but I used a box grater). Immediately, transfer the shredded potatoes to a large bowl of cold water; swirl and rinse the potatoes. Remove the potatoes from the water and spin dry in a salad spinner (or squeeze dry using a towel). Transfer the potatoes to another large bowl and spoon the cornstarch around the sides of the bowl, tossing the potatoes with it. Heat some canola oil in a 10-inch nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering; turn the heat down to medium. Add one-sixth of the potatoes to the pan, gently spreading them into an 8-inch circle. Do not press down on the potato cake while it is cooking. Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper and sprinkle one-third of the scallions over the top. Carefully spread another one-sixth of the potatoes on top. Cook for 6-7 minutes, until the bottom has browned. Turn the pancake and brown on the other side, adding more oil if necessary. Cook until the other side is browned and crisp. Keep the potato cake warm by placing it on a cooling rack over a baking sheet in a 200 degree oven while you cook the other 2 potato cakes. Cut each pancake into 4 wedges and garnish with reserved scallions (and sour cream, if you would like). *I made smaller pancakes instead of the 8-inch rounds that were suggested in the recipe.