Home-Made Potato Latkes
latkes may not sound like enough to eat for dinner. You should plan on making some veggies and/or a salad too. But face it,
no one who’s Jewish really cares what meat entrée you serve at Chanukah. Whether you roast a chicken or bake
a brisket, latkes are the main event. And if your guests are kosher, you probably should hold the meat anyway. After all,
where’s the joy in eating latkes without a dollop of sour cream?
As with most foods I prepare, particularly Jewish ones, I don’t actually follow
a recipe. I rarely bother to measure. I cook like my grandmothers did 50 years ago, throwing in a handful of this and a pinch
of that until the consistency looks about right. So I must confess that the directions below are merely an approximation.
The good news is that it will probably come out fine no matter what you do. Latkes may not be the lightest thing to eat
if you’re worried about your waistline. But for the cook, they’re very forgiving.
Many people I know make potato latkes using a store-bought mix and
swear to me they’re “just as good.” They may be delicious, but I’m a cook. Mixes are not for me. Making
the real thing, I must admit, can create quite a mess. Grating potatoes is time-consuming. Chopping onions dissolves
me in tears. Then again, making latkes in modern times is a snap compared with the way I did it as a child, chopping the onions
in a large wooden bowl, then grating each potato by hand. Now I throw them all into a food processor. (So maybe I don't cook
exactly like my grandmas did.) This doesn't feel quite kosher, like I'm getting away with something. But if you
have an electric device to do the dirty work for you, why risk scraping the heck out of your knuckles? I swear, they’re
just as good.
4 large or 6 medium white potatoes (I prefer Yukon Gold)
1 large or 2 small yellow onions
5 or 6 large eggs
matzah meal (you could substitute flour, I guess)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
A few grinds of
¼ to ½ cup fresh parsley leaves, cut small
Canola or olive oil for frying
Even if you’re using a food processor,
you need to grate the onion and potatoes separately. Peel the potatoes (or don’t bother, if you’re pressed for
time; the skins won't hurt you). Cut them each into eighths, then throw them into the processor and grate until they’re
a course but uniform consistency. Pour them into a bowl, removing any large pieces that remain.Then peel the onion, slice it in half, throw it into the processor
and grate until almost fine. Add this to potatoes in bowl. Beat eggs well and pour them in. Then add matzah meal, parsley,
salt and pepper. Stir until blended.
Coat a large skillet with nonstick spray, then pour in oil until it’s about ¼ inch deep and heat on medium high. Then ladle in latke mixture
as you would with traditional pancakes, making sure that the edges don’t touch. As the oil gets absorbed, you’ll
need to keep adding more to the pan. (I try to use oil sparingly, so that the latkes aren’t too greasy and also to cut
down on the calories somewhat.) Fry each latke for several minutes until brown on the bottom, then flip once and
fry on the other side until equally brown.
If you’re making a large batch to feed a crowd, transfer the latkes you’ve already made onto
a baking sheet and put them in the oven at 350 degrees until you’re ready to eat. Serve hot with applesauce and sour
people does this recipe feed? It depends. How hungry are the people? And what else are you serving? A basic rule
of thumb might be at least one potato per person. But when it doubt, don't worry about having to throw leftovers out. After
all, there are eight nights of Chanukah.
(Speaking of which....This mixture keeps fine in the fridge for
at least a day or two, if you want to fry some up each night. And in the end, whether you use a store mix or make your
own, latkes taste best when they’re made fresh.)