For such a no-frills dish, latkes can be surprisingly difficult to get right. Between the potato shredding and draining, the frying method, and the challenge of keeping the cooked pancakes crisp and warm, latkes are not for the faint of heart. Nick Zukin and Michael C. Zusman's crispy latkes from The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home are somewhat middle-of-the-road in terms of difficulty.
They advocate using the shredding dish on a food processor to streamline the work, and aren't terribly worried about the batter seeping liquid as it waits to be fried. Instead, they squeeze out the remaining liquid from the shredded potatoes right before slipping the patties in the oil. These steps make for latkes that are somewhat creamy on the inside, and super crisp on the outside—perfect for dragging through applesauce, or as a bed for their decadent pastrami Benedict (recipe coming tomorrow).
Why I picked this recipe: You can't have Hanukkah (or Thanksgivukkah, for that matter) without latkes!
What worked: I liked that the recipe wasn't terribly neurotic, but it still gave me great, crisp latkes.
What didn't: No problems here!
Suggested tweaks: Zukin and Zusman suggest spiking the latkes with garlic and/or roasted red pepper. I'd add that frying them in turkey schmaltz could also be a wonderful way to embrace of the holiday.
Reprinted with permission from The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home by Nick Zukin and Michael Zusman. Copyright 2013. Published by Andrews McMeel. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Makes 6 or 7 latkes
- Active time: 1 hour
- Total time:1 hour
- 1 pound Russet potatoes
- 1 1/2 medium (8 ounces) yellow or white onions
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil or chicken schmaltz
- 1 cup applesauce, optional, for serving
- 1 cup sour cream, optional, for serving
Fill a large bowl with ice water. Peel and grate the potatoes, placing the potatoes in the ice water to keep them from discoloring. Peel and grate the onions. Put the onions into a fine-mesh strainer and use your hand to press down until most of the liquid is drained. Darin the potatoes and dry them thoroughly using a salad spinner, paper towels, or a clean kitchen towel.
Place the potatoes, onion, salt, pepper, and flour in a large bowl and thoroughly mix the ingredients together. Add the egg and mix again util it is completely incorporated.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and heat it until hot. Test the oil by dropping a small amount of latke batter in the oil. If the batter bubbles and fries immediately, the oil is ready.
Measure 1/3 cup of the latke batter and place it between your hands, squeezing it, allowing most of the liquid to drain back into the bowl. In your hand, flatten the batter into a patty and place it gently in the hot oil. To minimize the risk of splattering, place the patty on a spatula and then use a fork or knife to slide the patty from the spatula into the oil. Repeat the process with as many patties as can fit into the skillet without crowding the pan. Cook until the underside is dark golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. To prevent uneven frying, the latkes can be rotated 180 degrees halfway through the cooking time.
Flip each latke, flattening it with the back of a spatula, and cook until dark golden brown and crisp on the second side, about 4 minutes, rotating them for even browning halfway through the cooking time.
Transfer to a heatproof platter or baking sheet lined with a double thickness of paper towels. Keep warm in the oven while you fry additional batches. Serve with applesauce or sour cream, if desired. The latkes can be held in a 200 degree oven for up to 30 minutes.