Wait. How did it get to be December, already? Here I am, going about my business searching for new ways to dispose of leftover Thanksgiving turkey, and there it is on my calendar: Latke Week! Potato pancakes, that is. Chanukah came early this year, time to light colorful little candles and to commemorate the miracle of a little bottle of oil lasting eight days, by feasting on fried foods. Yum! I thought I’d kick things off with my favorite of them all: Potato Latkes.
2 lbs. white potatoes
1 small onion (about 3 oz.)
1 large egg
1/3 cup matzo meal
2 tsp. kosher salt
Canola or peanut oil for frying
Grate the potatoes and onion together, either in a food processor or with a box grater. Drain off any water and place in a medium glass bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir by hand, using a sturdy wooden spoon.
Pour about 1/4 inch of oil into a large frying pan and heat it on high, till a couple of drops of water in the oil, pop. And I mean only a couple of drops! Otherwise, you’ll start your own Fourth of July sound effects going. Seriously.
Now, choose your size of pancake: For a larger latke, scoop up 1/4 cup of the potato mixture, and place it in the hot oil. Using your wooden spoon or a spatula, flatten out the mound to about 1/4″ thickness. If you want a smaller pancake, use 2 Tbs. of the potato mixture and flatten.
Fry each latke for about 3 minutes on each side, or until crispy and golden brown, and remove to a plate lined with paper towels. If you’re making a lot of latkes, you may have to add more oil to the pan. It shouldn’t take long for it to come back up to temperature.
Serve immediately with apple sauce, sour cream, or as we did when we were kids – a light sprinkling of sugar.
My ninety-year old mother, bless her, still uses the fine side of a box grater to grate everything by hand. The potatoes seem to release less water that way. I gave that up years ago, though, using the shredding disc on my food processor and simply draining off the excess liquid before adding the other ingredients.
Use a glass or plastic bowl to mix the latke batter. A metal bowl will instantly make the potatoes start oxidizing and turn pink. It won’t hurt the latkes any, but they won’t be white inside. They’ll be pink. Or beige.
This recipe is easily doubled, or even tripled, if you’re cooking them up for a larger gathering. To keep the latkes hot and crispy, set your oven to 200º F, line a large baking sheet with newspaper and put one of your baking racks on top of that. After draining off each batch of latkes, put them on the rack and place the whole pan in the warm oven. They’ll keep in there for a couple of hours.
You can also make these ahead! Just cook as described, and when the cooked pancakes are completely cool, just put them in an airtight container or freezer bag(s) and chuck ’em in the freezer. To serve, heat your oven to 350º F and lay out the latkes on a baking sheet. Heat for about 15 minutes, or until hot all the way through.
By the way, I just learned a new fact about Chanukah today, by way of an e-mail I received from Jason at BlogCatalog.com. Did you know that there are 16 accepted spellings of Hanukkah in the English language? Hanukkah, Chanukah, Hanukah, Hannukah, Chanuka, Chanukkah, Channukah, Chanukka, Hanukka, Hannuka,Hannukkah, Channuka, Xanuka, Hannukka, Channukka, and Chanuqa. There is, however, only one in Hebrew:
However you spell it, Happy Chanukah! Or Hanukkah!