Monday, December 10, 2007

How to Make Potato Latkes

Because of the central role of oil in the miracle of the Menorah, fried foods are traditional at Hanukkah. Potato latkes are just that – fried potatoes. They're kind of like Israeli hash browns. This recipe, when prepared well, results in latkes that are a crispy golden brown on the outside, and snow-white and moist on the inside.

I originally found this recipe in Celebrate! The Holiday Cookbook published in 2000 by the Cooking Club of America (I was a charter member!). I've modified it to suit my own tastes.


3 large potatoes (Russets will do nicely)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup chopped green onion
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon of pepper
1 teaspoon dried dillweed
light oil for frying

Peel and coarsely grate the potatoes in a food processor.

You can do this by hand if you want to, but I'm lazy.

Place grated potatoes in a clean dishtowel and squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. Place in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice.

Add the onions, eggs, flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and dill, to the potatoes and mix well. Heat about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. You'll the know the oil is hot enough when a small shred of the potato mixture immediately starts to sizzle if you drop it in the oil.

Use a tablespoon to scoop up rounded globs of the potato mixture, and slide them into the hot oil. Press them into the bottom of the pan with back of the spoon to flatten them out. Don't cook too many at once, and don't let them touch. It will cool the oil to fast, and the latkes will stick together.

Fry for about two or three minutes on each side until they are crispy and brown. Remove from the oil and place on paper towels to drain off the excess oil.

Serve them hot with a dollop of plain yogurt, sour cream, or applesauce. (My wife prefers sour cream.)

Makes about 10 to 15 latkes.

You can make them up to an hour ahead of time, if you want to prepare them early. Just put them on a baking sheet and put them in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven to keep them warm.

You can use frozen potatoes if you want, but make sure they are completely thawed and be extra diligent about pressing them in the towel. You've got to get the excess water out or you'll get hurt when they hit the oil.

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