Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How to make the best latkes

We had family Hanukah last night, I cooked latkes. Every cook thinks she makes the best latkes and I'm no exception... a few nights ago I was part of a Hanukah celebration at a local retirement community and at the dinner following, the ladies at my table were grumbling about the latkes as made by the kitchen staff. I had the wonderful fantasy of the lot of them - more than two dozen Jewish mothers - descending on the kitchen en masse to tell them how to make proper latkes. Of course, this would have degenerated into a free-for-all as they all disagreed with each other. Graters would have been flying.


10 medium baking potatoes
2 large onions
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour, bread crumbs, or matsoh meal
lots of oil
sour cream and applesauce for topping

The worst part is grating the potatoes. There have been many bloody knuckles in my past but this year for the first time I used the grating attachment of my food processor. Voila! Salvation.

After you've grated them, salt them liberally, toss them with the salt, and set them in a drainer over a pot for at least half an hour. More is better. They'll turn reddish and a whole lot of watery goo will drip into the pot.

While you're waiting, dice the onions (or chop them in the food processor). Put a couple tablespoons of oil in a big frying pan and saute the onions until soft.

Now take small handfuls of the grated potatoes and squeeze, squeeze, squeeze the rest of the liquid out of them. You will be amazed how much there is! The more you squeeze out the better.

I fire up two large frying pans with enough oil in them to cover the bottom generously. While the oil heats up, mix the sauteed onions, potatoes, eggs, and flour thoroughly.

I use a very large fork to take a golfball-sized blob of the mixture and put it in the oil, mashing it flat. We like the lacy parts around the edges so be sure they're lacy and flat. Fill both pans. You will not have good latkes unless you keep adding oil when the latkes suck it up. Don't even think about skimping. If you are dieting, don't eat latkes.

I cook them on the first side till I see the edges are getting crispy and then flip them. I like them very dark and crispy. Your mileage may vary.

I put a large flat pan in the oven at 300 degrees and lob the latkes onto the pan until people are ready to eat.

The big question is, how many people will this serve? It's always hard to decide how many latkes to make. Last night we counted: we got thirty latkes from this recipe. So that's 3 latkes per potato. Four people ate this recipe almost completely, but maybe they shouldn't have.

Sour cream and applesauce are the traditional toppings but I (a convert) prefer mozzarella cheese. Sshhh.

By the way, some people translate "latke" as "potato pancake" but that makes me shudder. It reminds me of that ghastly Manischewitz latke mix which makes limp flabby pancakes that are like wallpaper paste inside. No, no, nooooo!




At 7:02 AM, Blogger pete said...

my ex wife( some 37 yrs ago) and her boyfriend visited my daughter and made Latke`s and i was invited.. its been a few years since i had any.. they were ok.. her mother made better one. glad you got to have Chinese several times last


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