I plan to make latkes for 60 people for my Fathers home. Should I make ahead and bring and warm or should I make batter and bring to his house, which may discolor. Or is the best way to prepare and cook at his house just before service. Need some helpful opinions and ideas. Thanks
re: Jill D
I wouldn't recommend transporting cooked latkes, because they will probably get soggy, and crisp is the whole point of latkes, as has been previously mentioned on these boards.
However, cooking in a strange kitchen, where you aren't sure of space, equipment, etc, and where you may be in the way of other people who need to use the kitchen, can be a problem. To minimize the amount of work you have to do there I would suggest carrying the pre made batter.
To prevent discoloration, crush a tablet of vitamin C to a powder and mix it with the grated potatoes, after they have been squeezed dry. I don't remember where I read that, but it works.
I must respectfully disagree with Ms. Arcone. If you ar going to be heating the Latkes up, I suggest you make them at your home, at your convenience, and heat them quickly in a very hot oven. It is not ideal, but easier than cooking from scratch with the pressure of having to serve 60 people.
I dont doubt that the vitamin c thing works, but when 60 people are relying on latkes being brown instead of purple, that is not the time to be trying things for the first time. Try that one at home when it is just you and your father.
Cook them the day before, let them cool completely, wrap them tightly, bring them to you father's, put them in single layers in a hot oven, serve with mounds of apple sauce, and enjoy the party insead of cooking for two hours.
I, in turn, must respectfully disagree with Mr. Pine. The whole point of latkes is for them to be sizzling in the pan as guests arrive -- more important than the color of the latkes is the smell and the drama and the ritual of cooking them. If they're not perfect, so what! They'll still be hot and tasty... Plus, if you're like me, you won't mind having an excuse not to socialize with your relatives; this way you can avoid talking to Aunt Betty and still have her think you're a mensch...
I'm the designated latke maker at a party next saturday at my mom's house and what I intend to do is: a) make the batter at home so there won't be a big mess in my mom's kitchen (maybe I'll try the powdered vit c...); b) start cooking half hour before party starts so there's already a tray-full when guests arrive; c) guilt-trip a friend into taking over the latke-making an hour into the party...
Happy Hanukah! Rafi
You're right -- the making of the latkes is part of the festivities, in my opinion.
I made latkes for a dinner party last weekend in a similar way, except I only assembled the non-potato part of the batter in advance and grated the potatoes (in the food processor) at the last minute -- everyone was hanging around in my kitchen getting in the way anyway, so at least I could put them to work peeling spuds!
Just remember that if you do end up putting some in the oven to put them in a single layer and on a rack, not directly on the paper towels. I use a cookie sheet with a layer of paper towels and then cookie cooling racks on top to lay out the latkes (I picked this tip up from an article on frying fish, and it's so obvious I wonder why anyone would let fried foods steam and get soggy on paper towels!).
I too am charged with latkes for a crowd (40 on Saturday, 30 on Sunday) at other folks' homes. My solution to the fry at home and reheat issue is to undercook them at my home, then reheat in a frying pan with a small amount of oil as they are being served. It's much easier and neater to reheat cooked latkes than to handle batter.
I've also found 2 solutions to the discoloring issue. One is to grate the potatoes, then let them discolor, then spray with water to remove the color. Once they are back to white, they don't discolor again (this is from the Silver Palate cookbook). My current method is to parboil the potatoes before grating--they don't discolor at all, and they cook faster and don't taste raw in the center. See link below for recipe/full description.
re: Marion Morgenthal
Hi Marion. Parboiling sounds smart. But I would worry about the potatos turning to mush when you grate them. How do you avoid this? And (question for everyone) do you prefer a grating blade or chopping blade in yr food processor? In my experience, grating makes better texture, but chopping is easier for big batches like we're talking about...
Hi Rafi. I usually use the grater, but find they come out more like hash browns. One year I used the grate blade, then put them back and chopped them a little (what a mess). My friend's late mother used to use her blender (!) and used the whole potato, peel and all. Her latkes were heavenly. So I guess it's a matter of taste, and how much energy you want to expend. Happy Chanukah!
If you parboil, not boil the potatoes, they don't get too mushy. I use the grating disk of my food processor, then put some of the grated potatoes back in with the chopping blade--then mix the chopped and grated together for good texture. I also don't peel the potatoes, which doesn't seem to have any effect on the latkes and makes the process easier.
I would also suggest trying a small batch before you go "into production". I forget from year to year exactly what texture I like, and a small sample lets me figure it out before I make the big batch.
re: Marion Morgenthal
I grate 1/3 of the potatoes and grind up the rest with onion, egg and matzo meal. If you lay a sheet of Saran Wrap directly on the batter, it will prevent oxidation/discoloration before you are ready to cook. I made latkes for ten people last Sunday night, and made way too much batter. I wasn't sure how well it would keep, but I took the container out of the fridge tonight. Had to scrape off a 1/4" layer of blackened batter, but the rest was fine. Only problem was, the latkes were sticking in the pan, which wasn't a problem the first night I made them. May have been because the batter was cold. I eat latkes with sour cream and cranberry sauce, since I can't eat applesauce. Some of my guests were first-time latke tasters, and they preferred them with cranberry sauce (both cranberry and apple sauces were homemade).
Thanks for all the suggestions. I decide on making the batter at home and tried vitamin c to retain color. Did not work well. But color came bake after frying. latkes where delicious and many compliments. I used russet potatoes because stays crisper. Used grape seed oil for higher smoke point. must squeeze most of water out of batter then keep in colander till beginning to fry.
CLASSIC POTATO LATKES
The secret to crisp latkes is the removal of as much liquid as possible from the ground potatoes. Serve these plain (they're a fine accompaniment to a roast with gravy), or with sour cream or applesauce.
See how to dice potatoes.
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, diced
1 large onion, peeled, diced
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
10 tablespoons (about) vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 325°F. Place 2 baking sheets in oven. Line large bowl with towel. Finely grind potatoes and onion in processor (do not puree). Transfer to towel. Fold towel up around mixture; twist top, squeezing out all liquid into bowl. Let liquid stand 5 minutes. Pour off liquid, reserving any potato starch in bowl. Add potatoes to bowl. Mix in egg, flour, salt, pepper and baking powder.
Heat 6 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop 1 heaping tablespoon batter per pancake into hot oil. Using back of spoon, spread to 2 1/2- to 3-inch rounds. Cook until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to baking sheets in oven. Repeat with remaining batter, spooning off any liquid from surface of batter and adding more oil to skillet by tablespoonfuls as necessary. Serve hot.
Makes about 18.