Dillman's, Manny's serve different potato pancakes

November 23, 2013 (CHICAGO)

"We shred potatoes, give 'em a little rinse, ring 'em out a little bit. We like to keep that starch in there to help keep them gooey on the inside. Add in sweated Spanish onions and then we form them in little pint delis; stack two on top, steam 'em in our combi, let 'em cool down and then fry 'em," said Jordan Heflin of Dillman's.

But rather than vegetable oil, it's rendered beef fat here. Served with sour cream and chives and applesauce, the pancakes are a satisfying snack, or side dish.

"We see people ordering them a lot on the side, with a sandwich and then also we serve them on pastrami and eggs for brunch," said Heflin.

At the legendary Manny's Coffee Shop in the South Loop, where they've been in business since 1942, they average about a thousand latkes a day. But this week, they'll do five to six times that amount.

"The key for us is that we have a nice, crunchy outside but the center is soft and it's got a lot of onion in there," said owner Dan Raskin.

As well as flour and eggs. Spooned into large, cast-iron skillets, they're fried until golden brown, but still soft inside. A sidecar of sour cream and applesauce is a must. Raskin says he's fond of their old-school cooking method.

"It's not as much the oil, but we're cooking them in a skillet instead of on a flat top. When you cook 'em on a flat top you don't have the good browning from the oil all around the sides of it," said Raskin.

Now it's pretty hard to argue with a 70 year-old recipe, but it's nice to know that in Chicago there is room for both the modern and the traditional.

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