Video: Classic potato latkes, crispy and perfect


Noelle Carter, Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen director, prepares latkes.

Hanukkah is simply not complete without latkes. And though you can find all kinds of variations on this simple potato pancake -- do I grate by hand or by machine? Add onion? Matzo meal, flour or simply potato starch to bind? -- nothing beats a perfectly made latke. Crisp on the outside, perfectly tender inside, light in texture but rich with flavor, it’s something to behold.
Check out the video above for a quick how-to and tips, and continue reading below for a recipe.

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Total time: 1 hour | Serves 10 to 12


Note: Adapted from “The Jewish-American Kitchen,” by Raymond Sokolov and Susan R. Friedland

6 large baking potatoes, peeled
3 onions
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup matzo meal, or flour
2 to 3 tablespoons salt
Peanut oil for frying

1. Grate the potatoes and onions, preferably by hand -- it makes a difference. Transfer to colander set over a large bowl and knead to squeeze out liquid. Wait a minute or so and squeeze out liquid again. Transfer grated potato and onion to a second bowl. Pour off liquid from the first bowl, saving the starch that will have settled to the bottom. Scrape the starch into the vegetable mixture. Stir in the beaten eggs. Stir in the matzo meal. Add the salt and a lot of pepper. Pour the batter into the colander set over the first bowl, draining as much moisture as possible. It is vital to the fluffiness of the latke.

2. Heat a quarter-inch or so of oil in a cast-iron or other heavy skillet, until a strand of potato sizzles, then slide pancakes, about 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter apiece, into the pan. If you like thick, chewier pancakes, slide batter directly from spoon. If you like crispier ones, press them down in the oil. Whatever you do, handle as little as possible.

3. Fry until golden on one side, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn over and repeat on the other side, which will take much less time. Drain on brown paper bags or a rack -- paper towels will make them soggy. Sprinkle with Maldon salt if so inclined. Serve with sour cream and sauteed apples.

Each of 12 servings: 284 calories; 4 grams protein; 35 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 15 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 31 mg. cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 893 mg sodium.


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