As in many families, the Christmas traditions in my birth family have evolved over the course of my three-and-a-half decades as our family has grown, adding spouses and significant others and a few littles. But some things remain unchanged, like our Polish Christmas Eve dinner. Mom is 100% Polish, and while most of her offspring don’t crave sauerkraut the way she does, we all enjoy this holiday meal.
Our menu consists of potato pancakes with lox, pirogues, cocktail shrimp, and salad. The first two items are non-negotiable. I should know. I’m in charge of the pancakes these days, and when I threaten to go on strike, my family suddenly decides to shower me with accolades and assistance. You see, prepping and frying up enough pancakes for our party of 18 takes right around two hours, and the meal is inhaled in about 20. After those two hours at the stove, my feet are reminded once again of that first painful week working retail.
You can find our potato pancake recipe in the fabulous Colorado Collage cookbook (which I highly recommend for a multitude of recipes—and keep in mind that I cook as infrequently as possible).
• Peel and shred an appropriate amount of potatoes for your crowd (we do 20 pounds, but I think 15 would cover us).
• Squeeze out as much of the potato water as you can while shaping into flat pancakes roughly 3” in diameter.
• Fry in hot oil. Once you’ve started a few pancakes in the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
• If you’re cooking for a large crowd, keep the cooked pancakes warm in an oven set to 200°.
• When ready to serve, top with a dollop of sour cream, a twist of smoked salmon, and a sprinkling of chopped green onions.
• Enjoy them while they’re hot! They won’t stick around long.
What holiday traditions do you enjoy? I’d love to hear about them. Maybe we’ll add some new ones next year.