Perfect Potato Pancakes: A Latke Tutorial

6 Dec

Now come on, don’t be shy, raise your hand if you have never attempted to make your own latkes. That’s better.  It feels good to share, doesn’t it.

 
Or more likely, you have made latkes, and year after year you wonder why they are not turning out crispy outside and melt in your mouth creamy inside. And why, oh why, don’t they taste like Grandma’s???

 
Don’t worry, help is here!

 
I have a foolproof latke recipe for you, and it is low-fat!  Okay… I am totally lying about the low-fat part.

 
You can read this blog, or you can watch me make them live on TV here, or both:

 
Aura Makes Latkes on KMOV’s Great Day St. Louis

 
Tis the season to make latkes, so either way, get out your food processor, your frying pan, and let’s go!

 
Latke 101

 
The goods:

 
Potatoes. You can make these with any kind of potato and any kind of vegetable, really. Cooks are always throwing in everything from zucchini and carrots to sweet potatoes and curry. But for traditional latkes, I recommend using Russet potatoes because of their high starch content.

 
Onions. You can’t make a good latke without a good onion. Use a 2 potato to 1 onion ratio here folks.

 
Eggs. Keep it together folks. I know the onions made you cry, but in this case I mean the latke. It will help hold it together.

 
Salt. Yes, mmm… good. You can’t make a decent latke without the proper amount of salt. Besides, the right amount will help the water drain from the potatoes and onions. I’m a fan of kosher salt.

 
Flour vs. Matzo Meal vs. Potato Starch. Ok, sit down for this one: I don’t add any flour or matzo meal to my batter. I find it makes the batter gummy and heavy and you will still have liquid in the bottom of the bowl as the potatoes and onions will continually give off water. Instead, I use the potato starch that naturally comes out of the potatoes in my bowl (instructions and photos follow). And the liquid, well, you just keep mixing it back in. If you find you absolutely must add flour and can’t accept the concept of a flour-less potato pancake, then go ahead and add a little, you have my blessing. But don’t keep adding when you see liquid in the bowl, just mix it back in.

 
And oil. This is the most important part here. You want to use peanut oil. It is the best. Its high smoke point allows you to get through the whole batch of lakes without setting off the smoke alarm. You can also use canola or vegetable oil, but it won’t have the same results. Peanut will give you the crispiest texture. See below for more on oil.

 
Helpful tips:

 
Skin the potatoes. But someone I know leaves them on and boy does that save a lot of work, not to mention keep some extra nutrients in. But I haven’t tried it myself, so for now I say skin ’em.

 
Use a food processor. I know plenty of people swear by hand-grating. But the people I know who usually do this, well, the latkes are the only thing they will cook all year so they have energy to spare. You grandmother grated by hand. She suffered so you don’t have to.

 
You can double or triple this recipe. But if you do I recommend crushing a vitamin C tablet and adding it to your mixture to keep the batter from turning brown.

 
Make sure your oil is hot, hot, hot, like the Buster Poindexter song. You can put in a wooden chopstick as the oil heats, and when bubbles form around it and are moving rapidly you will know your oil is ready. Pretty cool, huh? And I def don’t advise throwing droplets of water into your oil to see if it spatters–it will, and you will have a mess and could possibly get burned.

 
Flip once, not twice, unless you want to give you latke a bath in the oil. Yuck.

 
Don’t press down with the spatula. You want it to have a little body, not be an oily potato chip. And the expression “flat as a pancake,” well don’t press down on those either.

 
Feel free to make these ahead and freeze. They are extra crispy when reheated. Try 375 degrees F for 6-8 minutes per side.

 

 

Need more help? Ask me!

 

 

Aura’s Traditional Potato Latkes

  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup peanut oil

1. Using the grating disc of your food processor, grate the potatoes and the onion.

2. Remove the shredded potatoes and onions and put them into a mesh colander sitting over a large bowl.

3. Change the blade of the food processor to the chopping blade. Put most, but not all of the shredded potatoes and onions into the work bowl of the food processor and pulse until you have a smoother texture.

4. Put the mixture back into the colander over the bowl and press down to help the potatoes release their liquid.

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5. Remove the colander from the bowl and you will see the liquid from the potatoes with the white starch settled at the bottom. Pour off the water being careful to save the potato starch.

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6. Put the potato-onion mixture into the bowl with the potato starch, add the egg, salt and pepper, and mix well.

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7. Pour the oil into a large frying pan and heat to medium high. Place a wooden chopstick into the oil and when bubbles form around it you know the oil is the right temperature for frying.

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8. Carefully drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil. Let the latkes cook for about 3 minutes until golden and then carefully flip and cook on the other side.

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9. Remove them from the pan and place on paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining batter.

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10. Serve with applesauce or sour cream.  Makes 18 latkes.

Aura is interviewed about Chanukah Traditions and cooking in the Ladue News

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14 Responses to “Perfect Potato Pancakes: A Latke Tutorial”

  1. Anna Roshal December 11, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    Me and my husband made these together. They were easy to make, and taste just leukemia my grandmother’s. Even the kids who refused to try latkes before liked them! Thanks, Aura.

    • pomegranatesandhoney December 11, 2012 at 10:07 am #

      Thanks for commenting Anna! So glad you liked them.Props to the boys for being brave! And I think your iPhone’s auto correct had something to do with the, uh, interesting, typo above. LOL

  2. Joelyn Levy December 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    I followed this recipe to the letter, and the latkes turned out GREAT! Creamy on the inside, crisp on the outside. I love having a “secret” ingredient in the potato starch that wasn’t added from a box!

  3. Cheryl Maayan December 11, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    These were the best latkes I have ever made. Finally a perfect latke! Thanks for the permission to use a food processor, the potato starch secret and peanut oil. Yum. Made them two nights in a row and added the fish from your October blog the second night.

    • pomegranatesandhoney December 13, 2012 at 10:21 am #

      Thanks Cheryl! I’m so excited that you made two of my recipes on the same night! I think next time you could add the All Hail Kale Salad and you will be set! 🙂

  4. Eileen Zahn December 15, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    What a great recipe! Besides these being the best (and easiest) latkes I’ve ever made the recipe made me chuckle. I’ll be sure to try your recipes in the future.

    • pomegranatesandhoney December 15, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

      Thanks for commenting Eileen! I am so glad you liked them as much as I do, and that you get my wacky food humor! 🙂

  5. Yogi December 15, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    OK, that’s it. You are officially the Ultimate Latke Maven! And I’ve bookmarked you.

    Seriously, thanks for these great recipes, with photos not less!

    • pomegranatesandhoney December 17, 2012 at 10:35 am #

      I am proud to be dubbed Ultimate Latke Maven by you Yogi! Thank you for your comments and the bookmark–more life-changing recipes coming soon!

  6. Laurie December 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    I remember our latkes! mmmm! Maybe just maybe I will try to make them on my own. 🙂

    • pomegranatesandhoney December 25, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

      Good luck, although you don’t need luck! And these have evolved since that day, so long ago…

  7. Laurie December 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    opps I meant to say YOUR lates.

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