My Latke Recipe—Better Late Than Never

2017-12-20 – Hanukkah ends tonight at sunset, so you might not have use for this recipe until next year. But I made latkes last night and they turned out well. So I want to record what I did so I can find the recipe the next time.

The truth is: my latkes usually turn out well. The success of the recipe isn’t so much the recipe itself. I always forget the proportions and have to look them up each year. I know the main concept, though, so I only look at recipes that look “right.” Last night’s recipe was probably the best, though, so here it is:

  • 5 lbs. potatoes
  • 2 med. onions
  • 7 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • Peanut oil
  • 5 tsp. salt
  • An undetermined amount of black pepper
  • 2 grater scrapes
  • 1 second degree hot-oil burn
  • Wrist pain to taste

I use baking potatoes (russet) because the larger size means a smaller percentage of surface area. Less surface area, less peeling. Get a good peeler. I had a good one this year and it really made the difference.

I have never found a good electric grater for potatoes. This may be due to not thinking about latke making when I buy food processors (which is rare). I imagine that there are blades similar to a hand grater that will run on a food processor, but I’ve never had that. I grate mine by hand.

Grating—and this is the problem with electric processing—is very important. You don’t want your mixture to be mush. It needs to retain some visible fiber. But not too much. You’re not making hash browns (though hash browns are tasty too, just not the same thing).

It’s also important that you drain the water from the grating product. I grate mine into as large mesh strainer. This allows the excess water to drip away while I’m working. Grate your potatoes and the onions as fast as possible to minimize oxidation of the mixture. If not, it turns brown first (which is okay) and then gray (which is not okay, unless you like eating gray latkes—it probably wouldn’t kill you).

Mix the grated potato/onion mixture with the rest of the ingredients and blend well. I’m not sure how much pepper I used. I just ground some over the top until it lightly covered it, and then stirred it in.

In a large frying pan (or two, if you want to go faster), heat ¼ inch of peanut oil. (Other high-temperature oil can probably be substituted, but I haven’t tried that.) Use a serving spoon to drop measured blobs of the batter into the oil. Fry until you start seeing some browning at the edges. Then flip the latke to fry the other side.

Most recipes call for you to put the done latkes on paper towels to get rid of excess oil. This year I tried putting them on wire racks in a warming oven. That seemed to work really well. The old method (with the paper towel) sometimes resulted in the latke becoming soggy. That didn’t happen with the wire racks. Excess oil does drip through the wire racks, so put them on a cookie sheet to catch the drips.

This recipe will serve 6-8 people. I have no idea how many latkes I had. I didn’t count. But we had five people for dinner and had some leftover after we gorged ourselves, but not double. Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream according to your taste and tradition.

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