16 December 2010


I know Hanukkah is over, but too bad. Latkes are awesome all year long! This recipe makes a lotta latkes but feel free to halve it if you aren't making them for a party or aren't a fatso. You can freeze extras and reheat them in a toaster oven.

2 lbs baking potatoes (about 3 large potatoes)
1 medium yellow or white onion
1/2 cup matzo meal (or flour or breadcrumbs)
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp potato starch (optional, see below)
oil for frying (for tips, also see below)
apple sauce and sour cream for serving

1. Grate the potatoes into a fine strainer over a large bowl. They will start to drain into the bowl, and you want to rinse them with a little water when you're done grating (if they've oxidized and turned red, rinse them till they are white), but catch all the water in the bowl! Squeeze out as much water as you can by pressing on the potatoes and remember, save all the drained liquid!
2. After you've pressed out a lot of the water, pour the potatoes onto a large cheesecloth or paper towels. Squeeze the potatoes until they're pretty dry. You might need to do this with a fresh towel 2 or 3 times.
3. Pour the mostly dry potatoes into another large bowl. Grate the onion into the bowl.
4. Slowly pour the rinsed potato water down the sink. When it's mostly poured out, you will notice a white substance at the bottom of the bowl. This is potato starch! Potato starch is one of the secrets to delicious latkes. It helps give them a good texture. Pour as much of the water out as you can while keeping as much of the starch. It's ok to have a little extra water. Scrape the potato starch into the bowl with the potatoes and onion.
5. Add matzo meal, extra potato starch (if you're using it, it's not necessary and if you don't already own it, it's probably not worth buying just for this use, but it's great for baking so I always have it in my kitchen), salt, pepper and eggs. Mix well. Allow the mix to rest for at least 10 minutes. Some more water will come out of the potatoes, but just leave it there.
6. Heat your fat in a large flat pan over medium heat. My mom swears by duck fat, which is kind of gross to think about but if you ever cook whole ducks, it's easy enough to save the fat that melts out in a jar (hey, some people save their bacon fat, so no judging!) and it will keep in your fridge for months. If you don't want to use that, peanut oil is the best vegetable oil for latkes. It has a really rich flavor and is really saturated/unhealthy/delicious. You can also use olive oil, which would be preferable to canola, but it doesn't matter that much. Don't use butter, it just doesn't work well. Probably something about the flame point or whatever.
7. Put a small piece of potato in the oil. When it turns golden brown, the oil is ready. Make balls of potato mix and gently place them in the oil. Flatten them with your hands or a spatula. Let them cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip and cook for 2-3 minutes on the other size. Remove from oil and allow them to drain on paper towels. Replenish the oil as necessary, but make sure it has heated up before adding the potatoes!
8. Serve immediately with sour cream and apple sauce.

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