December 3, 2009 5:01 pm at 5:01 pm #590890Joe SchmoMember
The best latkes are golden and crunchy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside, and perfectly seasoned.
Latkes are traditionally eaten at Chanukah, but they’re a treat anytime you crave crispy, savory potato pancakes. Latkes are traditionally made from potatoes and onions, but many recipes call for shredded sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, garlic, parsnips or zucchini. Just be sure that the majority of the mixture still consists of potatoes; other vegetables do not contain enough starch on their own to make the mixture stick together.
Treat Your Potatoes Right
For best results, use russet potatoes. This variety is high in starch, and the starch is necessary to form pancakes that don’t fall apart. Most people choose to peel the potatoes before making latkes, but this is entirely a matter of taste. If you do peel them, put the potatoes in water between peeling and shredding to prevent them from oxidizing and discoloring.
Have the onions and any other veggies trimmed and peeled, have a piece of cheesecloth ready and waiting, and measure out the other ingredients your recipe calls for: matzo meal or flour, baking powder, eggs, cheese and seasonings.
If you have a food processor with a shredder attachment, this will make the process go faster, but a good old-fashioned hand-held grater will perform the job just fine.
Alternate the potato with the onion and other vegetables while you shred in order to keep the potatoes from oxidizing too quickly.
If you want lacy latkes with rough, crispy edges, shred those potatoes coarsely. If you prefer denser latkes with smooth edges, use the fine side of the grater.
Squeeze your Spuds
Wet, juicy potatoes make for soggy, greasy latkes that fall apart in the pan because wet items will not brown well in oil. The potatoes need to be dry and the oil needs to be good and hot so that the exterior of the latke will quickly sear to a crispy finish and prevent the pancake from absorbing too much grease.
To squeeze out the potato mixture, place it in a piece of cheesecloth and squeeze it.
When you cannot get any more liquid out, open up the cheesecloth, stir the mixture around a little, and then squeeze it some more.
Empty the contents of the cheesecloth into a mixing bowl and mix in the remaining ingredients.
If you’re using matzo meal, let the mixture sit for a few minutes in order to allow the matzo to soak up any remaining liquid.
If you don’t have a deep-fat thermometer, you can test the temperature of the oil by dropping a small amount of latke mixture into the pan. If it turns golden brown within one minute, the oil is ready.
Form the latkes by carefully placing spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot oil, then flattening the mounds with a spatula.
Fry until nicely browned on the bottom, then flip the latkes with a spatula and brown the other side.
Drain the latkes on paper towels and serve them immediately, if possible.
If you aren’t able to serve them right away, keep them in the oven at 200 degrees F (95 degrees C) on a cooling rack placed over a cookie sheet. To keep them nice and crispy, don’t stack them or cover them.
Serve hot latkes with applesauce and sour cream.
The latkes are too greasy
The oil is probably not hot enough. Allow it to come back up to temperature between batches of latkes. Fry latkes in small batches: crowding the pan will bring down the temperature of the oil, and it may not get hot again fast enough to prevent the pancakes from absorbing lots of oil.
The latkes fall apart
Did you squeeze out excess moisture from the shredded potato mixture? Extra eggs, matzo meal, and shredded cheese will all help bind the mixture together if it seems too “loose.” Next time, in addition to squeezing out the potatoes until you just can’t squeeze any more, you can also shred the potatoes more finely to get the mixture to stick together.
The potatoes turn brown
Keep peeled potatoes immersed in a bowl of cool water until the second you’re ready to shred them. Be sure to work quickly! Start heating the oil as soon as you finish shredding the potatoes so it will be hot when the latke mixture is ready for frying. When all else fails, combat oxidation by par-cooking the potatoes in boiling water before making them into pancakes. Cooking the potatoes even a little bit will remove some of the starch, so you’ll need to add extra egg, matzo meal, and/or shredded cheese to help the latkes stick together.
The latkes are still chewy and starchy on the inside
To remedy this problem, you can shred the potatoes more finely, make sure the oil is hot enough, make the latkes thinner, or pre-cook the potatoes.
The latkes aren’t crispy
Again, pay attention to the type of potato and the temperature of the oil. These are the two most important factors in achieving latke perfection–and for best results, latkes should be served hot from the pan to the plate.December 9, 2012 4:40 pm at 4:40 pm #912054🍫Syag LchochmaParticipant
Thanks for the tips – making my first batch today.December 9, 2012 7:21 pm at 7:21 pm #912055SaysMeMember
pleeeeeeeeeease be careful about grease fires. I’ve already heard of one major fire from latke cooking this year. Remember to NEVER throw water on an oil fire. Turn off the flame. If close at hand, dump on baking soda. Otherwise, just cover the pan with a lid or cookie sheet. And dont peak until the pan is completely cool- the oxygen can start the fire going again. NO flour, NO water. Be safe everyone!December 9, 2012 8:20 pm at 8:20 pm #912056PosterMember
Made my first batch Motzei shabbos!December 9, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm #912057YW Moderator-18Moderator
Try cheese latkes, Yum!December 9, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm #912058popa_bar_abbaParticipant
I think I’m gonna use frozen hash browns to make them. My wife says she isn’t allowed to do melacha, and is machmir on the whole night.December 10, 2012 12:48 am at 12:48 am #912059mewhoParticipant
i bought the special latke frying pan at the buzz. used it tonight and it is great. makes 7 latkes at a time.December 10, 2012 7:17 pm at 7:17 pm #912060rebdonielMember
I used my food processor to make latkes last night, and it was so easy. I used flour to bind the potatoes, but am of the opinion that latkes are a great Pesach food (I use matzah meal to bind them, or you can use potato starch if you’re machmir by gebrokts).
I used 4 pounds of potatoes, 4 large Vidalia onions, salt, pepper, flour, and about 9 eggs, and fried in about 3 inches of canola oil.
We had apple sauce and sour cream, butter, Swiss, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, smoked salmon, creme fraiche, and black whitefish caviar and finely chopped chives.
I made some Reuben-style latkes with the Russian, sauerkraut, and swiss, and I also made some elegant latkes with lox, creme fraiche, caviar, and chives, which went down very nicely with ice cold vodka. For dessert, I made homemade churros with thick Mmexican chocolate-cinnamon ganache for dipping, and also deep fried Oreos, and Italian zeppole with powdered sugar. We brought in Dunkin Donuts from the store on Avenue J under R’ Mehlman, but will be making sufganiyot later this week.
And, in a nod to Yehudit and to irony (Eating Greek food on Chanukah), we made some Greek dishes with feta cheese- a Greek salad with stuffed grape leaves, feta, kalamata olives, anchovies , red onion, tomato, cucumber, romaine lettuce, oregano, and scallions, and I made spanakopita: we used OK-certified phyllo (Kronos?), frozen spinach, scallion, dill, parsley, onion, nutmeg, feta, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, eggs, salt, pepper, lemon,with lots of olive oil and butter between the layers of phyllo.December 11, 2012 1:33 am at 1:33 am #912061Yekke Mitt a GartelMember
make sure you dont burn them (you may have a grandson like Eli gerstner who will tell everyone about it)
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