Why It Works
- A food processor creates large, firm shreds of potatoes, making a heftier latke with nice lacy edges.
- An ingenious trick for squeezing out excess moisture from the shredded potatoes (combined with incorporating the released starch back into the potatoes) helps produce extra-crisp latkes.
- Frying in a cast iron pan results in a deeper, more burnished crust, and requires less adjustment of the flame due to cast iron's superior heat retention.
Great latkes take some time and preparation, but with the right technique and tools, they're easy to master. If you need to make latkes ahead of time and serve them later, let them drain, then stash them in a 200°F (95°C) oven with the door slightly ajar for no more than two hours.
These ingredient amounts aren't law; depending on the moisture content of your potatoes, you may need more or less binder, or a different balance of eggs and matzo meal. What's important is that the latke patties don't fall apart in your hands, or they certainly will in the pan. Start with a little egg and matzo meal, then add only as much as you need.
- 4 1/2 pounds (2kg) russet potatoes (about 7 medium-large)
- 5 cups diced onion
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups matzo meal (more or less as needed)
- 2 tablespoons (24g) kosher salt, to taste
- Canola or peanut oil, for frying
- Applesauce and sour cream, for serving
Shred potatoes with the grating disk of a food processor. After every 2 or 3 potatoes, wrap shreds in cheesecloth that has been folded over twice. Tie corners around the handle of a wooden spoon and twist bundle until water flows out. Collect water in a bowl and squeeze all potatoes until dry. Transfer potatoes to a large mixing bowl along with diced onion.
Let drained potato water sit, undisturbed, until a pool of brown water forms on top of a slurry of pale potato starch. Carefully drain off water, then mix starch into potato and onion mixture with your hands. Mix in eggs, one at a time, alternating with 1/4-cup additions of matzo meal, until latke mix can be formed into patties that just stick together in your hands. Add salt incrementally.
Heat 1/2 inch oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until a shred of potato immediately bubbles when added to pan. Form a small amount of latke mix into a disk and fry on both sides until golden brown to test for seasoning. Taste and add more salt as needed.
Form latke mix into patties about 4 inches wide and 1 inch thick in the center. Slide into pan, cooking no more than 4 at a time. Fry until a golden-brown crust forms on bottom, then flip with a slotted spatula and fork until same color is achieved on other side. Flip as needed to get a firm, darker-than-golden crust on both sides.
Transfer to a sheet pan lined with paper towels to cool for 2 minutes, then serve with applesauce and sour cream at the table.
Make-Ahead and Storage
If you need to make them ahead of serving time, fried latkes can be drained, then held in a 200°F (95°C) oven, with the door slightly ajar, for no more than two hours.