What is your favorite latke recipe?
I've had very good luck with the Cook's Illustrated recipe (their 11/97 article follows).
Traditional Potato Latkes
A two-step potato grating technique yields latkes that are crispy around the edges but still creamy in the center, with serious potato flavor.he challenge: Often served as a side dish with holiday meals, the Jewish potato latke (something of a pancake) is usually made from grated potatoes mixed with eggs, onions, matzo meal, and seasonings and then fried. Ideally, latkes should be somewhat thick, golden, very crisp on the outside, and very creamy in the center. Figuring out how to make these ideal latkes would mean finding the best potato, the best grating method, and the best frying technique
The solution: We tried three different types of potatoes with a starch content ranging form low to high: the low-starch red potato produces a very creamy, almost gluey pancake; the high-starch russet had a pleasantly pronounced potato flavor and a dry texture; the medium-starch Yukon Golds were a surprise. These potatoes produced pancakes that were an attractive yellow-gold color, tasted somewhat sweet and mild, and were creamy without being gluey or sticky. We had clearly found the right potato.
Some people say that hand-grated potato produces a latke that is superior to food-processed potato. We tried both methods and could find little difference in the outcome. What we did find to be important, thought, was to complete the grating in two steps. Working with a food processor, we produced large shreds of potato by passing all of the potatoes through the coarse shredding blade. We then removed about half of them, added chunks of onion to the potatoes left in the workbowl, and processed the mixture until it became a coarse puree. The large shreds of potato cooked up nice and crisp along the outside of the pancake, while the puree provided the makings of a thick, chewy inside. (The same results can be produced with a hand grater by using the coarse side of the grater first, for all of the potatoes, then chopping half of the shredded potatoes finely with the onions.) Another important step is to press the potatoes into a fine sieve to remove their moisture. At the bottom of the bowl of accumulated liquid there will be a layer of potato starch that is very helpful in binding the pancakes later on.
After frying the pancakes in chicken fat, vegetable oil, and solid vegetable shortening (Crisco), we determined that vegetable oil worked best, while it was also the most practical. Chicken fat can be hard to come by and is not, in any case, the most healthful of cooking mediums. Crisco burned more easily than some of the vegetable oils, and it was somewhat difficult to incorporate chunks of it into already-melted fat. Peanut, corn, and safflower, individually or in combination, worked best. The oil should be poured into the pan to a depth of one-quarter inch (any less and it was too difficult to maintain a consistent temperature). Although gauging temperature is difficult, the key is to have the oil really hot, but not smoking, when the latkes go in. The oil should then be kept at a lively bubble while the pancakes cook.
THICK AND CREAMY POTATO LATKES
Makes approximately 14 3-inch pancakes
Matzo meal is a traditional binder, though we found that the pancakes texture does not suffer without it. Applesauce and sour cream are classic accompaniments for potato latkes.
2 pounds Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, peeled
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into eighths
1 large egg
4 medium scallions, white and green parts, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons matzo meal (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable oil for frying
1. Grate potatoes in food processor fitted with coarse shredding blade. Place half the potatoes in fine mesh sieve set over medium bowl and reserve. Fit food processor with steel blade, add onions, and pulse with remaining potatoes until all pieces measure roughly 1/8 inch and look coarsely chopped, 5 to 6 one-second pulses. Mix with reserved potato shreds in sieve and press against sieve to drain as much liquid as possible into bowl below. Let potato liquid stand until starch settles to bottom, about one minute. Pour off liquid, leaving starch in bowl. Beat egg, then potato mixture and remaining ingredients (except oil), into starch.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1/4-inch depth of oil in 12-inch skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Working one at a time, place 1/4 cup potato mixture, squeezed of excess liquid and pressed into 1/2-inch thick disc, in oil. Press gently with nonstick spatula; repeat until five latkes are in pan.
3. Maintaining heat so fat bubbles around latke edges, fry until golden brown on bottom and edges, about three minutes. Turn with spatula and continue frying until golden brown all over, about three minutes more. Drain on a triple thickness of paper towels set on wire rack over a jelly roll pan. Repeat with remaining potato mixture, returning oil to temperature between each batch and replacing oil after every second batch. (Cooled latkes can be covered loosely with plastic wrap, held at room temperature for 4 hours, transferred to a heated cookie sheet and baked in a 375-degree oven, until crisp and hot, about 5 minutes per side. Or, they can be frozen on cookie sheet, transferred to zipper-lock freezer bag, frozen, and reheated in a 375-degree oven until crisp and hot, about 8 minutes per side). Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Original article and recipes by Lisa Weiss