Author Notes: There’s nothing like a platter of potato pancakes to inspire excess and pure joy. Plain and simple, the recipe I grew up with called for measurement in pounds: as many potatoes as you could stand to peel and grate by hand, as many onions chopped as needed to bring tears streaming to your eyes, eggs and matzoh meal – enough to hold the ingredients together, salt and pepper enough to taste, and if you really wanted to give your Lipitor a workout, a dollop of chicken fat, enough to add that indescribably heavenly Jewish flavor.
Serves: a crowd
pounds russet potatoes
large eggs, lightly beaten
large onions, grated
cup matzoh meal (or all-purpose flour)
teaspoons ground pepper
cup chicken fat (optional)
cup peanut oil (or more) for frying
- QUIBBLE IF YOU WILL, but here you go, these are (only) suggestions for best latke results: Choose russet potatoes. Apparently their high starch content is ideal for holding together that combination of crispy-crunch outside and creamy inside
- Don’t bother peeling the potato. Past the grater, you hardly notice the skins.
Drain as much of the liquid as possible from the potatoes using a colander or cheesecloth. The drier the mixture, the better result frying.
- Use matzoh meal (it’s a Jewish holiday food after all). Or use a combination of matzoh meal and flour as a binder.
Use vegetable oil. Better yet, use peanut oil that can reach higher temperatures without scorching. You want to maintain oil at about 350 degrees.
- Drain latkes on paper towels and serve immediately. You can also keep them warm in a low oven for an hour or more. In the fridge they can keep for a day or two or in the freezer, separated and well wrapped, for up to two weeks. Reheat in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven.
- SERVE with applesauce (preferably homemade) and sour cream. For cocktails, make bite-sized latkes (about a tablespoon of batter a piece) and top with sour cream and a smoked salmon or caviar.
- VARIETIES: get fancy, substitute sweet potatoes for russet. Grate other vegetables, such as zucchini, fennel, carrot, leek or golden beets into the mixture. Google latkes and make ’em with lentils, curry, wild rice, ginger, corn, scallion, mushroom, thyme, risotto. Take veggies and grain in their glorious variety, legumes, beans, rice. . . add cream, cheese, spices . . . lo and behold: you can fry!
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