There are few things in life better than a crisp early morning; sun rising, fried goodness filling the air. For some, the smell of bacon carries them to the kitchen from their bed, for others it is the aroma of a fresh brew (usually coffee.) For me, it is the smell of Ukrainian breakfast.
When reminiscing about the dreamiest breakfast, I am always taken back to the autumn of my brother’s wedding in Ukraine. I spent one week in Kherson, my hometown in southern Ukraine, for the wedding. Kherson was unimaginative. I don’t mean this in a bad way, it was just very normal. There is a lot of walking done in Ukraine, and fall is a lovely season for walks. Watching my brother marry, and simultaneously being in our hometown was an emotional rollercoaster for me. It was a hectic week, with many feelings and many walks to the ol’ mini mart down the street from where I was staying. A bottle of cognac in Kherson cost the same as a bottle of Mountain Dew.
I quite needed some relaxation and soul searching. And the last week of my trip was spent in beautiful and quiet Uladovka at my auntie’s house. Uladovka is situated in Vinnitskaya Oblast’, more towards the west. There I truly submerged myself in relaxation.
Uladovka is very different than Kherson. It is in Vinnitskaya Oblast’ so it is relatively close to Vinnitsya, a very large city. But Uladovka is a location from a fairy tale, with plains and whimsical trees, and the starriest nights I’ve ever seen. The night time is so quiet there that you can hear a spider’s legs tapping the ground in the distance.
So this brings me to my ideal breakfast. Auntie made scrumptious breakfast. See, breakfast on a farm means extra fresh ingredients. And every day for one week she prepared an incredibly fresh breakfast for us. Something that specifically stood out to me were deruny. Deruny are crispy, satisfying Ukrainian potato pancakes.
Deruny, Draniki, Kartofelpuffer, Latkes- they’re all variations of the potato pancake. These shallow fried potato pancakes are popular in many European cuisines like Germany, Austria, Belarus, Russia, and Romania. Fried on a pan and usually served with sour cream or a cold sauce, to me deruny are the ultimate breakfast!
What You Need:
6 medium potatoes
2 tbsp all purpose flour
Salt & pepper
Weber Beer Can Chicken seasoning
You’ll need to start by skinning the potatoes and peeling the onions. I like to use russet potatoes and yellow onions for my deruny. You don’t need to cook the potatoes or onions, they will be grated raw. Now the potatoes must be grated, not chopped, in order to taste right. The onions may be grated or minced in the food processor. Mix together grated potatoes, onions, egg and seasonings. Add egg and mix.
The consistency of the batter should be thick yet runny enough to ladle. Heat up 2 tbsp vegetable oil or sunflower oil in your pan. Ladle batter into your hot pan; you should be able to fit about 4 deruny in your pan at a time. Fry on one side then flip and fry on the other side. Repeat with the rest of your batter! Truly simple!
These decadent deruny are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Traditionally deruny are topped with sour cream for breakfast or lunch. Sour cream has always complimented potatoes- think, baked potato and sour cream. Me personally, well I love putting sour cream on just about anything!
Now let’s set our table. Stack deruny in a large serving plate. You may sprinkle them with chopped chives or green onions. The green onions are a perfect match with deruny, and add a pretty touch for presentation. Make sure to add a bit heap of sour cream on the side! My husband loves potatoes with ketchup, so that is also an excellent sauce to serve with deruny.
For me, they are a complete breakfast when served with sour cream on the side and a large mug of black coffee. But you may serve deruny as a side dish for a larger meal as well.
Now I want to paint a picture for you of when I fell in love with deruny. We’ve had deruny for breakfast when I was a child. And of course everything my mother cooks is delicious. However tasting the deruny made from fresh potatoes on the farm in Uladovka was something else. Perhaps it was the freshness in the autumn air and the sun shining through the trees that brought these deruny to life. The eggs used were fresh from the chicken coup, the onions fresh from the dirt.
The breakfast table contained fried deruny, sautéed mushrooms, fresh soup, eggs, pickles, tomatoes, cucumbers, and Russian sour cream. There were cups of hot coffee and tea, and fresh milk. Oddly I did not feel overly stuffed or unable to move after the breakfast in Uladovka. Instead it was as though these fresh ingredients and amazing tastes brought energy to my body and mind!
I hope you give this deruny recipe a try and I hope they bring you as much happiness as they bring me!