Hi gang! So today I decided I would try something new. For those of you who follow me on social media, I cook/bake a lot and often share pictures of my food and talk about what I am making. So I thought it might be fun to now and then share a recipe with you all. I am not turning this into a food blog, but I thought it might be a fun addition on occasion.
So since it is Chanukah and it is definitely a food holiday, I thought I would share my recipe for potato latkes. Latkes are potato pancakes and probably the food most associated with Chanukah. For those not familiar with the holiday, the short version is it celebrates the triumph of the Jews, led by Judah and the Maccabees, over the oppression of King Antiochus, who like many before and since wanted to destroy the Jewish people. Upon winning the conflict, the Jews returned to the temple where they wanted to relight the menorah. There was only enough oil for one day, yet by miracle the oil lasted for eight days until they could get more. So that is why Chanukah is often called the Festival of Lights and we refer to the Chanukah miracle. If you have seen a dreidel (a little top), the hebrew letters stand for “A Great Miracle Happened There” (or “Here” if you have an Israeli dreidel). So part of the celebration of Chanukah also includes eating latkes and other foods cooked in oil (Yes! Presents AND fried foods! Woot!).
Ok, so that is the history, now on to the recipe. Like I said, latkes are potato pancakes fried in oil. There are a variety of styles, but I personally like mine like really crispy hash browns. Mine are delicious (if if a do say so myself) with crispy edges and a nice soft center. Some folks prefer theirs more as a traditional pancake, which changes the consistency a little bit and are probably closer to what you may see in restaurants or store bought. My recipe below will cover both options. You can also find lots of variations (baked, sweet potato, etc), but personally I like to go old school. Yes, they are like a zillion calories, but I make these once a year and I want them fried and delicious. Ok, here we go. First the recipe, then more details on the process…
Jay’s Potato Latkes
- 6 medium potatoes, peeled
- 1 small onion
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 TBSP flour (or GF flour, corn starch, or other thickener)
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- lots of oil
Grate the potato and onion. Add the eggs, flour, pepper, salt, and baking powder. Stir all to combine.
Heat up your frying pan with a generous amount of oil. When the oil is hot, add the potato mixture to the pan and cook until light brown. Flip and cook to desired doneness. Drain on paper towels.
Serve with apple sauce, sour cream, sugar, or topping of your choice.
Ok, now the details…
Grate the potatoes and onions
So first off, you need to grate your potatoes. Now this part sucks if you have to do it by hand, I will admit it. I use a food processor and this takes about a minute, but hand grating is painful. I give you full permission to buy pre-grated potatoes if you can find them. Just be sure they don’t have anything added to them. But no, you can’t buy a mix or powdered potatoes. They need to be the real thing. Trust me, it is worth it. Now like I said, I like the shredded, hash brown style so I just do a single grating of the potatoes and onions using the grating blade on my food processor, so they are stringy shreds. If you want something more pancake-like, you can throw them into the bowl of the food processor after they are grated and give them another whirl with the chopping blade so they are pulpy rather than shreds. Here is a picture of mine at this point.
Add remaining ingredients
Dump the shredded potato and onion into a big bowl and add everything else (but the oil). Stir it around.
Note: If you made yours pancake style instead of shredded, you need to wait about ten minutes here for the liquid to rise and then pour it off. Because the potato mix will let out a lot of liquid and you don’t want them watery. The shredded version also releases liquid, but it is easy with a fork or slotted spoon to pick up the potato mix without the liquid when they are shredded so I don’t bother waiting. But you definitely need to if you are making the pulpy version.
Also, as the potato mixture sits it will turn grey/brown. Don’t freak out, that is just exposure to the air. They will taste fine and you won’t even notice once the latkes are cooked.
Heat up the oil
Ok this part is kind of terrifying, but you need a whole mess of oil here. Normally I do not cook like this you guys, but these things need to be cooked in oil. Not lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Like there needs to be a big ole puddle of oil in that frying pan that will make your arteries cry. Figure about enough to cover half of the latkes while they are cooking. Make sure the oil is heated up well before you start add the mix to the pan. If the oil is too cool, the latkes will just absorb the grease. But don’t start super hot or you will be splattering oil everywhere. So set it for around medium, keep an eye on it, and don’t do anything until the oil is hot enough that it pops when you flick some water on it.
Fry the latkes
Add your potato mix in small clumps into the hot oil. So this is the part that takes patience, because this takes FOREVER! Really. I know mine are close when the edges start to get brown, then I flip them when the bottom is desired doneness. Like I said, this takes a while for the first batch. Once you get one side, the second side cooks MUCH faster though, so be on alert.
Remove the latkes when they are cooked and drain them on a paper towel. FWIW, I typically have two frying pans going at once (at least) and just add more latkes to the oil as I take off the cooked ones.
On the right you can see my latkes when I first put them in the pan, then later when I am turning them. The top ones are already turned and the bottom is just about ready to go. See what I mean about the edges getting brown?
Eat and enjoy!
Ok, so there a variety of theories on the best way to top your latkes. Apple sauce is probably the most old school traditional. My Eastern European mother grew up on sugar. But my personal favorite is a dollop of sour cream. I love the way it brings out the potato flavor. And of course, you can eat them plain. They are delicious any way you try them.
Hope you all enjoyed this recipe! Please feel free to ask questions and let me know if I missed anything. And if any of you give them a try, let me know!
(P.S. This recipe was passed down to me from my mom, but I have no idea the original source)