Today's recipe from this week's featured cookbook, Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking, is for Potato Latkes. You basically couldn't write a book by that title or blog about it without highlighting these little fried potato pancakes. Here, Schwartz recommends using matzo meal instead of flour for a crisper surface. Another trick he recommends is stirring the mixture with a tarnished silver spoon, leaving it in between stirrings--it helps prevent the potatoes from turning gray. Latkes are typically served at hanukkah, but we couldn't resist bringing you this recipe several months in advance--it's not like you can't make them any ol' time.
- 1 pound russet (baking) potatoes 2 eggs
- 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 8 pieces
- 1/4 to 1 1/3 cup matzo meal
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of cream of tartar (optional)
- Peanut, corn, or canola oil, for frying
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs together to mix well. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the onions, scraping them. down a few times, until very finely chopped, almost a puree. Scrape the onions into the bowl with the eggs and stir them in.
Drain the potatoes, then set a strainer over a bowl. In the same processor bowl, process the potatoes until very finely chopped but still with some texture. Immediately scrape into strainer. With a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon, press out the moisture so it drains into the catch bowl. Immediately stir the potatoes into egg mixture. Discard liquid and potato starch collected in bowl. Add the matzo meal, salt, and pepper. If not using a tarnished silver spoon (see above), add a pinch of cream of tartar. Stir well; let stand while oil is heating.
Cook the pancakes: Heat about 1/8 inch oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Spoon out the batter, using a scant 1/4 cup for each pancake. The batter should sizzle as soon as it hits the fat, but not wildly. If the edges of the batter separate, the oil is too hot. If there are just slight bubbles when the batter touches the oil, the oil is not yet hot enough. The first round of latkes is inevitably less good than later batches.
Fry the latkes for about 4 minutes on the first side, slightly less on the second. They should be well browned before turning them. Drain on absorbent paper or on a rack. Serve immediately.