For those of you who don’t know me, I grew up about 20 miles north of Chicago in a suburban area known to Chicagoans as the North Shore. Some of you may know the North Shore as the horrible place in Mean Girls where Cady Heron ends up after being uprooted from her life as a “homeschooled jungle freak.” While that movie is certainly an exaggerated portrayal of my hometown (but if I’m being honest it has elements of truth), it got one thing right and that’s the best place to grab brunch on the North Shore.
Walker Brother’s Pancake House is a cornerstone of growing up on the North Shore and I don’t know anyone who can look back on sitting in those green booths without smiling. It’s impossible to go wrong with giant apple pancakes double the size of your head, spicy cheesy hash browns, and the oh so loveable chocolate chippies. No matter how great everything else was, ten year old me always went in with only one thing on my mind, the world’s greatest potato pancakes.
They were paper thin, crispy on the edges, soft in the middle, and distinct from any latke I’d ever had or thought I could ever hope to have, until now.
I’m gonna take a second here to brag, because as you can see from the photos, I recreated the best brunch dish in my own kitchen. And guess what? They taste the same too! I stumbled upon this recipe a few weeks ago when I was prepping for Passover and was intrigued when I read the instruction to break down the potatoes in a food processor rather than using a box grater. This immediately made me think of Walker Bro’s and the little chunks of potato that are characteristic of their potato pancakes as opposed to the longer hash brown style pieces in most recipes. I decided to give it a go and was skeptical when the potato mixture looked like this:
Not pretty right? But I was determined. I thought of it like a traditional pancake batter and got my favorite non stick skillet very hot before attempting to cook these. I fried them in canola oil and was beyond thrilled when they came out looking like I was back home at my favorite breakfast restaurant. To my delight, I took a bite and was immediately brought back to all those amazing childhood mornings.
Healthy tip! Pair these with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and you get that creamy cool texture and tart flavor while adding protein and making this a slightly healthier choice than what you get at Walker Bro’s. Another great thing is making these at home lets you control the amount of oil you use and they really tasted pretty much the same with less oil, though I will admit the ones that were cooked in a bit more oil did have a more perfect golden brown color. But hey, the lighter color is a small sacrifice to make for a slightly healthier version of a childhood favorite!