Make Ahead

Simple yet Stellar Latkes

November 22, 2010
Author Notes

Yeah, I just posted a recipe for delicious sweet potato/parsnip/leek/feta latkes. But I'm also a sucker for the classics. To take basic ingredients from simple to stellar, I wring every last bit of moisture from the potatoes, so that you don't need to sop up the liquid with a lot of starch (which makes them sodden and less potato-y). I pre-fry the latkes and then reheat them in the oven, which lets them cook more evenly (and lets you entertain without the odor of fry oil hanging in the air). And my how-did-I-ever-make-latkes-without-this secret: put the cut ends of the onion in the oil as it heats, which infuses everything with a delicious savory flavor. - deensiebat —deensiebat

Test Kitchen Notes

These are simple yet stellar, just as the title implies -- exactly what a perfect traditional latke should be: just all crunchy potato goodness with a distinct onion flavoring. I ended up hitting the three dozen mark from just halving the recipe, so down-scaling may be required. - Andrea —The Editors

  • Makes 3 dozen small latke
  • 5 pounds russet potatoes
  • 4 mid-sized yellow onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup matzo meal
  • 1-2 cups canola oil for frying (depending upon the number of pans used)
In This Recipe
  1. Line a strainer with a large piece of cheesecloth or a loose-weave dishtowel, and place in the sink. Grate half of the potatoes and onions on the coarse holes of a box grater and place the shreds in the lined strainer, alternating between the two and mixing the shreds together (this allows the onions to keep the potatoes from discoloring). Reserve the ends of the onions. If you don't fancy hand-grating, you can use a shredding disk on a food processor. Just return 1/4 of the mixture to the bowl of the processor, and pulse a few times to make smaller bits that will help bind.
  2. Pick up the ends of the dishtowel/cheesecloth, and gather it around the load of grated potatoes and onions. Twist and squeeze to wring as much liquid as possible from the mixture, twisting further as more liquid is released. Aren't potatoes wetter than you'd thought? When it’s as dry as possible, place the wrung-out mixture in a large mixing bowl. Repeat with the remaining potatoes and onions.
  3. Add the salt, pepper, eggs, and matzo meal to the potato-onion mixture, and stir well to combine. Pour the oil into frying pans to a depth of ½”, and add the reserved onion ends. Heat over a medium flame until the onions have browned lightly and infused the oil with an oniony perfume. Remove the onions if desired. Shape ~3 tablespoons of the latke mixture into a round shape (I like to pack a ¼ cup measure ¾ full), and place in the oil. Flatten slightly to form a small pancake. Repeat as many times as your pan space allows. Cook the latkes until well-browned, ~5-7 minutes, then flip and brown the other side. When the second side has cooked, place on a plate lined with brown paper, stacking as needed. Serve right away, or...
  4. Cool the latkes, and layer them in a sealed container with parchment between the layers, and freeze. To serve, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the latkes on a cookie sheet (you can place them on a rack on top of a cookie sheet for a crisper result, but usually the sheet is fine for me), and cook until they have colored a bit more and are heated through and sizzling (~10-15 minutes). Serve with applesauce, sour cream, and additional salt if desired.
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