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What kind of potato for latkes? What kind of oil?

I heard it said that if you use Yukon Golds, you don't have to peel the potatoes. Does anyone have experience making latkes with unpeeled Yukon Golds? If not, what kind of potatoe do you use? Epicurious says peeled russets. Any other suggestions? And for frying, is sunflower the best kind of vegetable oil to use? Would love to hear your thoughts. And Chappy Chanukah!

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  1. Russets are highest in starch, so it's generally preferred. I personally like golds the most (can't go wrong with that subtle butter flavor) so use them for most things; it helps that it's in the middle when it comes to starch content. Skin is a personal thing. I leave 'em on for everything but gnocchi and bread (since it's really not an option).

    If you'll be serving them to guests, use russets. Best not to take chances with traditional dishes since a different flavor may offend. But, they turn out fine (I'd argue better) if you use golds with skins.

    Sunflower oil is great, especially in this case. I use canola for cooking, but I wouldn't use it for latka since canola is a GM food and whether or not it's kosher is debatable. So, either sunflower or peanut oil will do.

    1. we've been using russets for years, peeled,washed, water removed, blended with onion and fried in Mazola vegetable oil.

      Now the big decision...apple sauce or sour cream. I'm an apple sauce person.

      And Cherry Christmas to you. :-))

      2 Replies
      1. re: jfood

        And why does it have to be either or? I have both apple sauce and sour cream together with my latkes and the same goes for cheese blintzes. By the way, I too was a "Seeing Eye" dog in training who "changed majors" during school. I didn't do well in the dorm atmosphere.

        1. re: jnk

          doesn't need to be either/or. but i do not like sour cream with blintzes or apples sauce with mrs jfood's best blintzes. she likes the opposite. so we are a very progressive household.

          the pups couldn't care less which she gets.

          thanks cousin

      2. For our industrial-size latke parties, I buy a 50-pound box of russets, and I get a three-liter jug of Lion and Globe brand peanut oil from the Chinese grocery. The oil's a little less refined than the US brands, and the peanutty aroma doesn't stop smelling good even after the first hundred people have been served. Also, always use matzo meal, not flour!

        1. Thanks, all! Peeled russets for 48 it is! Wish me luck!!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Lemon Tart

            Wait, 48 people? Aiya ... good luck!

            I use russets too ... and definitely applesauce (homemade, if poss.)

          2. Cook's Illustrated prefers Yukon Gold to Russet for latkes, and I agree with them. That peeling them is optional is icing on the kuchen. I add dehydrated onion rather than fresh because there is never a sharp/raw taste and they absorb some of the excess liquid exuded by the grated potatoes. Always homemade applesauce, rarely sour cream too.

            1. Has anyone made oven-baked latkes? I don't think I've ever had them, but they sure look good in this recipe, and it would be nice to be able to make all of them at once instead of frying in batches:

              http://bakingbites.com/2007/12/oven-b...

              2 Replies
              1. re: aching

                Have never tried this recipe in particular, but I've never had a baked latke that came anywhere close to the real thing. And +1 for applesauce...cold!

                1. re: aching

                  I haven't tried that recipe either, but the one time I did make baked latkes vs. fried ... it was more of a pain that it was worth. Instead of hovering over the stove, I hovered over the oven, which also got greasy (even using less oil) and the final product wasn't as tasty.

                2. I'm into unpeeled White russets, with the starch squeezed out of them pretty hard. Maybe it's because it makes them so much more absorbent? For a nice chunky applesauce and smetana?

                  1. For latkes I use unpeeled Yukon Golds, yellow onions and peanut oil. The family eats them as quickly as I can fry them.
                    And definitely applesauce. YUM :)

                    1. We've used yukon gold, unpeeled, to good results. Honestly, don't remember what we fried in, though. Perhaps, just whatever was in the pantry...

                      1. In our household it's russets or Yukon Gold, depending on what's on sale or in the house. A word of advice on oil - some people are HIGHLY allergic to peanut oil (my mother is one), so be careful and either ask your guests or use something else. I prefer canola oil, but glatt kosher is not an issue for us. The biggest secret to crispy latkes is to thoroughly drain the potatoes, I wring them out in a cotton towel to remove all moisture. Good Luck!

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Diane in Bexley

                          "I wring them out in a cotton towel to remove all moisture."

                          I do the same, and wring them VERY tightly to get rid of as much moisture as possible. But be warned, the potatoes will stain the towel brown. For several years now I've had a dedicated latke towel that I pull out every Hannukah.

                          1. re: BobB

                            Or you could use a brown towel. =)

                            1. re: BobB

                              I've been using my large potato ricer to press the liquid out from shredded potatoes for a few years now. Works great and no stained towels.

                              1. re: calpurnia

                                Yup, potato ricer is the best implement for getting rid of water on shredded potatoes

                              2. re: BobB

                                A little Oxi-Clean in the wash works wonders, no stains left.

                                1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                  Probably, but I've grown rather fond of my special latke towel!

                              3. re: Diane in Bexley

                                Sometimes I crave absolutely smooth and silky pancakes instead of ones with more texture, so I'll puree the potatoes (russets preferred, but Yukon Golds also work) in a food processor instead of shredding them. Then I hook a large flat-bottomed strainer onto a bowl and pour the puree into the strainer. After about 5 minutes, almost all of the starch has dripped down into the bowl. The potato puree will darken considerably, but I don't find that it affects either the flavor or the appearance of the finished latkes.

                                1. re: cheesemaestro

                                  I grew up in the '60's, before food processors and my mother used her blender to make a potato puree. It looked kind of like potato applesauce, which she wrung out to remove moisture, added some eggs, a little potato starch, salt & pepper. These fried up very crispy and are more I consider potato latkes than the shredded stuff you get from a food processor. To me, the food processor produces a hash brown texture, which is tasty, but not Chanukkah to me. She used this same mixture to make a delicious potato kugel by heating the dish in the oven (400) with some oil, then adding the potato puree and baking it, depending on the size, 45-60 min. She cut these in large squares. Very tasty with roast beef or brisket. However, you can't prepare this in advance and it doesn't reheat well at all.

                                  1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                    I agree that the shredding blade on a FP produces an unduly coarse texture for a traditional latke. I use the chopping blade instead.

                                    1. re: masha

                                      That's what I use, too, although I sometimes enjoy the coarser texture that comes from putting the potatoes through the shredding blade. I run the processor for a minute or so and wind up with something that's well pureed. Some food processors may do a better job than others with this. (Mine is a KitchenAid.) When I shred, I wring out the the potatoes in a towel to remove the starch, but when I puree, I find the drip method I described above to be simpler and much less messy.

                                      1. re: masha

                                        Try a combination of both methods - first shred, then switch to the chopping blade and pulse into smaller bits. Creates a good texture. Then rinse and squeeze.

                                  2. re: Diane in Bexley

                                    I don't understand why everyone is saying canola oil isn't kosher. Sure it is. As far as I've seen all the major brands (Mazola, Wesson, store brands, etc.) have kosher certifications.

                                    It's not kosher for Passover, but that's an entirely different matter. Lots of foods are kosher, but not for Passover.

                                  3. I've used both yukon golds and russets but i think the starch from russets makes them a little better. I use a half and half mix of pure (not virgin) olive oil and peanut oil. Yum....

                                    1. You need to use white potatoes (not yukon gold and not Idaho potatoes). Peanut oil is what the older ladies used and it is give the best results. Also, it is important to rinse the potatoes to keep them from turning color. My mother made the all time best latkes and I can still taste them.

                                      1. I use russets, peeled & I use safflower oil. Do not use canola, gives off a fish smell if heated too high of a temperature.

                                        1. I use a combo of russets and yukon golds, peeled.
                                          I grate them by hand the long way for long strands, which I think are key to success. If I had a large feeder on my FP and I could lay them down I would shred them.
                                          I squeeze them out in cheesecloth but add back in some of the starch if the batter needs it.
                                          I use matzo meal, no flour.
                                          I fry in peanut or grapeseed oil, drain on paper bags, and serve with homemade applesauce, sour cream and caviar.

                                          1. I have the best of luck with older ugly-about-time-to-chuck potatoes.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: hill food

                                              You are right! It is supposed to be old potatoes, preferably the white rose or something like that. Russets are wrong for latkes as are the starchier potatoes including yukon golds.

                                              1. re: newport5

                                                It is "supposed to be " whatever one's grandmother did. I use russets and yukon golds and would put my latkes up against anyone's.

                                                1. re: newport5

                                                  I've been using YG spuds ever since Cook's Illustrated recommended them as the best choice for latkes. I have my quibbles with CI but think they are right in this instance. I don't go through a bag very fast so they may indeed be old by the time I use them. Also, they will usually have been refrigerated. My mother used ordinary all-purpose spuds. In those days the only other supermarket choice was Idaho. Reds came along later, and many cooks may not be old enough to realize that YGs were unknown in most American supermarkets until roughly 25 years ago.