Classic Potato Latkes | CUESA

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Classic Potato Latkes

Source:

Evan Bloom and Leo Beckerman, Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen

This recipe originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. Many recipes for latkes use matzo meal as a binder. Bloom says he prefers potato starch. “I like my latkes to taste ultra-potatoey,” he explains.

Makes 10 large latkes

INGREDIENTS

1 pound russet potatoes (about 2 large potatoes)
1 medium onion
¼ cup potato starch
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
Flaky sea salt
Applesauce and sour cream, for serving

PREPARATION

1.   Make the batter. Peel the potatoes and grate using the large holes on a box grater. Put the grated potato in a clean dish towel, wrap tightly and squeeze hard to remove the liquid from the potatoes. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl. Grate the onion using the large holes on a box grater and add to the potatoes, along with the potato starch, eggs, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine.

2.   The crispiest latkes are made with the starchiest potatoes, which is why Bloom and Beckerman prefer russets to Yukon Gold potatoes. Squeezing the excess moisture from the grated potatoes also ensures the latkes will be crunchy instead of soggy. Once you’ve grated the potatoes, work quickly so the potato doesn’t discolor.
Fry the latkes.

3.   Preheat the oven to 250ºF. Set a wire cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet and line the rack with paper towels. Heat an 8- to 10-inch cast iron or heavy bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat and add oil to a depth of ¼-inch.

4.   When the oil is hot, working in batches of 4 latkes, spoon 3 tablespoons potato mixture per latke into skillet, spreading into 3-inch rounds. Cook until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes, then carefully flip and cook 5 minutes more on the second side.

5.   Transfer to the paper towel-lined rack to drain, then put in the oven (still on rack) to keep warm while you fry the remaining latkes.

6.   Proper cooking of latkes is key. If the oil is too hot, you’ll burn the exterior before the interior is cooked through. Too cold and you’ll end up with grease-laden sponges. Monitor the heat carefully and adjust as needed. Whether you prefer thick or thin latkes is a matter of taste.

7.   Just before serving, sprinkle the latkes with flaky sea salt. Serve warm, accompanied by apple sauce and sour cream.

Latkes can be made ahead, fried and reheated just before serving in a 350ºF oven for about 10 minutes. They can also be made, fried and frozen, then reheated directly from the freezer in a 300ºF oven until hot, about 20 minutes.

Sour cream and apple sauce are traditional latke accompaniments, but they can also be topped with crème fraiche, salmon and chopped chives, served alongside poached eggs or just eaten plain.

Variations

Sweet Potato Latkes: Swap in 1 pound of sweet potatoes for the russet potatoes. Peel and grate as noted above, but there’s no need to squeeze the grated sweet potato, as the flesh is drier than the russet. Cook over medium heat (instead of medium-high) because the sugar in sweet potato causes the pancakes to brown more quickly. Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice mixture that includes dried thyme and sesame seeds) and a few pomegranate seeds.

Carrot-Scallion Latkes: Swap 1 pound carrots for the russet potatoes. Peel and grate as for the potatoes, but there’s no need to squeeze the grated carrot. Swap 1 bunch of scallions, cut into 1-inch-long strips, for the onion. Serve the carrot latkes topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of five spice powder.

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CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Learn More »