Friday, November 23, 2012

Potato Latkes

I wanted to share a family recipe for potato latkes, so I called my cousin, in New Jersey, and asked if she had a recipe from her mom or our grandmother.  She said she didn't and confessed that she never makes them herself, though she can remember making them with grandma when she was a little girl.  Grandma, who was an awesome cook, never followed a recipe.  It was just a handful of this, a pinch of that and add salt till it tastes right.

So I went searching online for a recipe that sounded like it would result in the latkes of my memory.  I soon found out that there are as many variations of latkes as there are families making them.  I found latkes with grated apples or zucchini in them, latkes with or without matzoh or eggs added.  I even found out that some people sprinkle their latkes with powdered sugar, (really!??).

My cousin and I agreed that the latkes should be as crispy as possible, and preferably served immediately, right out of the frying pan.

It is important to extract as much water from the potatoes as possible. That is why most recipes call for you to pre-salt them, let them rest a bit, then wrap the grated potatoes in cheesecloth and wring them as much as possible. Twist a wooden spoon handle in the cheese cloth to give yourself some leverage. Then think about something that really ticks you off and take it out on the potatoes, till all the water is squeezed out!

Crispy  Latkes 

Use 1 pound potato per person as a main course or half that as an appetizer.  This recipe is for one person, multiply as needed to fit your crowd.

  • 1 pound Russet potato, peeled
  • 1/4 pound onion
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper (optional)
  • vegetable oil for frying
  1. In a food processor or on a box grater, grate the potato and onion and mix together. Mix in 1.5 teapoons of kosher salt, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Squeeze down a bit and drain off excess water from the bowl. Take a handful or two at a time, wrap the mixture in a double layer of cheesecloth or a clean dish towel and wring the liquid out of them. Get them as dry as possible. Then give them one more squeeze for good measure.
  3. Stir in the eggs, flour, and pepper and another 1/2 teaspoons of salt (since much of the original salt will have washed away).
  4. In a large skillet, heat about 1/8 inch of oil over a medium high flame.  Toss in just bit of potato. It should immediately sizzle, but the oil shouldn’t be smoking. (You can use less oil, but they will be less delicious).
  5. Depending on what size you like your latkes, use 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup  of potato, and add it to the oil. Immediately flatten to about 1/3 inch. You don’t want much thickness because the inside has to cook before the outside burns. Form the rest of the latkes the same way.
  6. When the first side is a dark, deep brown (see picture above), flip and continue cooking. When both sides are done, remove to a plate lined with paper towel. Sprinkle on a bit more salt.
  7. Its a good idea taste the first ones (no, you can not eat them ALL!) to make sure it is cooked through. If not, reduce the heat a bit or make the next batch thinner.
  8. Serve with applesauce, sour cream (my favorite!) and more salt on the side.

For "dessert", listen to Peter Yarrow sing his Hanukkah song "Light One Candle". This song has always meant a lot to me.

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  1. Yummmo, I love this kind of stuff. I've drastically changed my eating so I'd have to change this recipe up some to make it work for me, but it might be worth it.

    1. Kristi- try checking the Cooking Light website for lighter/healthier versons of potato latkes. They have several versions.


  2. Kristi- If you go to Cooking Light recipes online, you'll find lower fat/healthier versions of potato latkes.


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