Thursday, December 2, 2010

Potato Latkes

I prepared these potato latkes the night before Hanukah began because I wanted to have the time to post the recipe before Hanukkah was over.  When Sebastian asked what was for dinner he was overjoyed and curious.  "Why are you making latkes, Hanukkah doesn't start until tomorrow night."  When I told him I wanted to photograph the latkes for my blog he understood right away.  "Oh, that way your readers can make them for the holiday."  Maybe it is just me but I feel his logical thinking has recently improved.  For example the other night I was tucking him into bed while Lewis and Julian were at the ER.  Julian had swallowed a penny and then begun throwing up.  Sebastian looked at me, in that straight man way only a child can, and started to list off the reasons each of them have visited the ER.

"Julian ate a pebble when he was a baby, burnt himself on a pan of Brussels Sprouts and now he swallowed a penny.  Every time Julian has gone it has been for something he has done.  I went when I was dehydrated because I had gastroenteritis," (he really did say gastroenteritis, which just shows how often he has heard the story), and then there was the time I stepped on a piece of glass"  My favorite part is he was so matter of fact, and really it does tell you a lot about both of my children.

Like when they each decided they were walkers not crawlers.  They were both late walkers at right around 17 months.  However when Sebastian became a walker he had been practicing while holding our hands for so long that he could practically run.  I had read that new walkers can not turn corners or carry things while walking.  Sebastian could turn a corner while carrying anything he wanted.  Julian however just decided one day that he was done with crawling, even though he was completely unsteady and fell down as much as he walked.  But he had chosen and steadfastly walked (and fell) from then on without reverting to crawling.

For all their differences in how they approach the world they are also remarkably similar.  They may take a slightly different path to get there but they both think of inventive ways to possibly injure themselves.  Like the time I discovered them tying a rope around their waist so they could repel off the porch.  They also used to agree that latkes are yucky, until I started precooking the potatoes before shredding them.  Now they agree they are one of the best dinners.  Soft inside with a crispy outer crust.  As an added benefit for the cook there is no chance of the potatoes discoloring, so the batter can be made up in advance.  You also do not need to drain the shredded potatoes.

Potato Latkes
Before starting to cook these go and close any doors in your house.  Latkes are delicious but the lingering scent of latkes is best avoided.  After all the latkes are made you can help cleanse the air by boiling a large pot of water with fresh ginger or citrus slices in it.

2 1/4 lb. potatoes (I used Yukon Golds, you can substitute your favorite potato)
1 onion (mine was 6 oz.) grated on the second largest holes on a box grater
5 eggs
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp matzo meal or flour
Oil for frying, I used olive oil as the frying temperature should never be above olive oils smoke point

Scrub the potatoes and remove any eyes or blemishes.  Cut the potatoes to the size of the smallest potatoes and steam until not all the way tender but a knife can be inserted.  I steamed mine for about 13 minutes, the pieces were about 2 inches wide.  Remove from the heat, drain out the hot water and cover the potatoes with cold water.

Grate the potatoes on the second largest holes on a box grater.  Grate as much of the skin as you can by continually turning the potato to grate new skin.  Reserve any skin that does not grate and chop it all finely at the end.  Add the grated potatoes to the remaining ingredients except oil.

Preheat oven to 250° and place a rack on a sheet pan.  Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large saute or frying pan to about 350°.  Scoop the batter out by tablespoons into the hot oil and flatten down some.  Fry until crisp and brown before flipping over and cooking the second side.  Once both sides are cooked transfer the cooked latkes to the prepared rack and place in the oven.  The oven will keep them warm and also crisps up the outside.

Serve with applesauce and sour cream or full fat greek yogurt


  1. interesting. I've never heard of cooking the potatoes before making latkes. Do you taste a difference or just the boys? happy Hanukkah, Robin! Melissa

  2. Melissa, I notice the difference as well, they are creamier and less sharp. i prefer them this way as well.


  3. Robin, You make your potato latkes the same way I do. I parboil whole russet potatoes for five minutes. Just long enough to really cook a little of the outside. I like that I don't have to squeeze them dry but I still get that wonderful crispy outside and soft inside.

    I made them last night for dinner, but I must confess to serving them with grilled baby back ribs.

    I love the stories you tell about your sons.


  4. Ann, I came close to serving ours with some ham I had in the fridge. Somehow I couldn't do it so close to Hanukkah. Now I want some ribs.

    I am glad you love my stories. Parenting is much better if you recognize how funny it is.


  5. I read a piece from a chef the other day who bakes his latkes instead of frying them. I've never tried, since I only manage to make latkes around Hanukkah and I just don't have the energy to experiment around holidays when I have people depending on traditional fare. Have you ever tried baking?

  6. I have never tried baking my latkes and I wouldn't for Hanukkah. After all latkes are a traditional Hanukkah food because they celebrate the miracle of the oil by being cooked in it. However I would be willing to try it when it wasn't Hanukkah, if I had a recipe from a trusted source.