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Latkes for a Crowd

Hanukkah will be here before you know it, and I'm curious -- how do CHers prepare latkes for a large crowd? Do you make them ahead and reheat them? If so, how do you keep them until serving time? Frozen...? Refrigerated...? And how do you reheat them? A quick fry in (more) oil? In the oven? I'm asking because in my house, the latkes get eaten as soon as they leave the frying pan -- they rarely even make it to the table. I'd love to be able to make them in advance without sacrificing taste or texture, and without having them get dark and grease-laden. Any suggestions?

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  1. I am very leery of folks who say you can make them in advance, refrigerate or freeze them, and reheat them in some way; I very much doubt that they can ever come out anything like recently fried. I have, however, been successful in making them in advance --by which I mean, say, half an hour in advance -- and putting them in a single layer on a flat pan (e.g., a baking sheet) lined with paper towels and keeping them warm in a 250-degree oven. They do not emerge from the oven QUITE as good as straight out of the pan, but if you cook them pretty crispy to start with they end up staying quite good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ozhead

      I know this is an old entry...but it's still a question that pops up. I like the idea of freezing the latkes right from the frying pan...but no one has said what/how to freeze them. I do know it's single layer. HELP!

    2. You might want to do a search -- every conceivable aspect of preparing and serving latkes has been discussed in depth (you know the saying: "two Jews, three opinions!" to which I add: and not afraid to share them!) over the years.

      Here's a post from last week: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/45824...

      Personally, I always find it the most fun when the host(ess) puts some of the guests to work: peeling potatoes, grating them and frying up the latkes -- not to mention arguing about the proper methodology and ratio of ingredients, and sharing how your grandmother did it -- is very convivial.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Since you've worked the griddle at my latke parties, I say thanks, Ruth!

        Yeah, I'd never consider not making people at least bear witness to the frying... what, they should go home without their clothes smelling of grease?

      2. I start frying them about 30 min to an hour before guests arrive too. I've also done multiple pans at once to increase the quantity coming out of the pans at once; it makes for some concentration and coordination, but I can do it. I'm frying while guests are here, at least at the early stages, but at some point I stop frying and we have plates full, and I can spend time with my guests.

        There really isn't a good way to reheat latkes, but the oven is better than other options.

        By the way, does anyone have a good potato-to-guests ratio? I don't usually use recipes for latkes, and last year I committed the ultimate Jewish sin: I ran out of food (I think there was a special line at Yom Kippur to admit that one). Okay, technically I didn't run out of food; technically the last person to come got one latke. And, technically, my friends are flakes who are terrible about RSVPing on the Evite. But if I have a general idea of how many people may possibly come, anyone know how many potatoes per person I should estimate to ensure that I don't repeat my sins of the past?

        1. the jfoods have made and frozen latkes in the past. They fry them and then place them in single layers on a rimmed cookie sheet with layers separated by wax paper. Then the latke condominium is placed in the freezer. The night before they are relocated to t he fridge to defrost.

          To reheat they go into a 350 oven. The oild taht remained on them duringthe freezing process is still present and they crisp up nicely.

          10 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            Do you do anything special to prevent them from turning dark?

            1. re: CindyJ

              they do discolor slightly but some applesauce and you're good to go.

            2. re: jfood

              Jfood, I knew we are soulmates! Have been doing this for many, many years. Only difference is I reheat them in 400 oven, to crisp them up. Only cook latkes about 75-80% done initally, that way they don't overcook upon reheating, and heat them from frozen state about 15-20 min.

              Usually make brisket with latkes and this is pain as brisket reheats in 300 oven. Usually have brisket reheated and waiting in 2nd oven.

              1. re: Diane in Bexley

                and please tell jfood that apple sauce is the piece de resistence for both the brisket and lat-kees

                1. re: jfood

                  Absolutely! I grew up in a kosher home, so sour cream doesn't seem right to me.

                  1. re: Diane in Bexley

                    kosher or not, it's KISS in jfood's mind.

                    apple sauce = lat-kees
                    sour cream = blintzes

                    BTW jfood is trying to get out of a biz dinner tonight so he and mrs jfood can make the blintzes. wish him luck.

                    1. re: jfood

                      JFood, on another thread for farmer's cheese, someone was looking for a good blintz recipe. Pls post yours. I can't find my grandmother's and I am looking for one as well. Thanks!

                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                        DiB

                        Pretty simple

                        1/2lb cream cheese
                        1/2lb farmers cheese
                        1 egg
                        3T sugar
                        pinch of salt

                        Need to triple of quadruple the recipe for a crowd.

                        Blinis are:

                        2 eggs beaten til foamy
                        add 1/2t salt; 1t sugar; 1C water; 1T melted butter; 1C flour; 1/4 t baking powder; plus a little milk to thin batter to proper consistence.

                        Jfood pours a little in a NS pan, swirl and pur excess back into bowl. When one side is dry and other slightly browned, rap onto towel. fill cooked side and roll

                        Hope you enjoy

                        1. re: jfood

                          Thanks! Another example of regional differences, my granma put in raisins in her blintzes and some vanilla. More like dessert, but very tasty. Haven't made these in a while (too much patchkerei for me ) but DD will be home next week from Bandeis, she is keeping kosher now, and plan to serve for Wed night dinner with homemade cream of mushroom soup (veg broth - not chicken this time!), salad and fresh fruit topping. I can make these Sunday and freeze - love to do that kind of stuff so we can enjoy homemade mid week without much fuss.

                  2. re: jfood

                    yes, it is THE requesite item. I usually serve my latkes with brisket, goose or chicken, but this year- its vegetarian- Dutch pea soup, latkes with homemade applesauce, sour cream and a persian cucumber salad. Cookies and jelly filled douhnuts for dessert.

              2. They're really best served fresh. When I'm making a huge batch, I fry them up then drain them on paper towels and stick them in a 300 degree oven while the rest of them get fried.

                3 Replies
                1. re: gini

                  One tip I came across a few years ago that really works (and makes sense) is *not* to drain latkes (or any fried foods) on paper towels: when you put them on the paper towel, the heat trapped under the food creates steam, which makes your fried food soggy -- you need to let the air circulate around them, so the steam doesn't build up. Like Nyleve, I put a single layer (stacking causes the same steam-sogginess problems) on rack on a baking sheet in a warm oven -- if you want to be neat, you can put a paper towel under the rack. I like the idea of stacking them on their sides -- I'll have to try that this year!

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Great tip. Now I need to go buy a baking rack!

                    1. re: gini

                      I just use wire cooling racks -- they're oven-safe enough for this purpose.