Latkes are potato pancakes that are fried in oil. They are a traditional Hanukah food, prepared to symbolize the one day’s worth of oil that is said to have burned for 8 days so many years ago. While there are many ways to make latkes, one thing is certain: you want to make sure they don’t turn out soggy by draining as much water out of the grated potatoes as possible. While purists will say that there should be no flour or other fillers added to potato pancakes and that they should be fried very thin, I find that adding 2 tablespoons of flour (or matzoh meal or leftover mashed potatoes, if you have them), helps everything stay together nicely. The egg acts as a binder, as well, though I’ve made them without eggs and they worked out just fine. If you are looking for even thicker latkes, you can add an additional egg and a bit more flour (or matzoh meal or leftover mashed potatoes). While you may, of course, grate the potatoes by hand, it is much much easier to use a food processor. Once you master traditional potato pancakes, you can branch out and vary them in numerous ways. I’ve added grated apple and chives; I’ve used shallot and garlic instead of onion; I’ve made sweet potato zucchini latkes with ginger, cilantro, and chilies and I’ve seen recipes featuring parsnips and carrots, as well. Grapeseed oil is my frying oil of choice when it comes to latkes; they are best when eaten immediately, but if absolutely necessary, you can freeze them and then warm them in a 350°F oven before serving. —WinnieAb
- Makes 12 medium latkes
medium-large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced longways (so they fit into the food processor)
medium onion, peeled and sliced to fit into the food processor
finely minced parsley
finely minced green onion
all purpose flour or matzoh meal or leftover mashed potatoes
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grapeseed oil for frying
- Using a hand grater or a food processor, grate the potatoes and the onion. Place in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and squeeze out the water.
- Mix the potato and onion in a bowl with the parsley, green onion, eggs, and the flour. Mix well. Season with 2 pinches each of salt and pepper.
- Heat a cast iron skillet or a griddle and coat with a thin layer of the oil (about 1/2 inch). Place spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the oil, flattening each one with a spatula.
- Fry several minutes, until golden brown, and then flip over and continue frying until both sides are well browned. Drain on paper towels. Add additional oil to the pan as needed to fry the rest of the latkes.
- Serve immediately with applesauce and crème fraîche or sour cream.