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Jan 4, 2012 02:21 PM

Latke confession

For the last few years, my latkes have sucked....really, they were bad. This year they were flavorful and crisp because I used mother's little helper. No, not Valium, schmaltz.

Delicious schmaltz. Flavorful schmaltz to fry the mixture of grated russets and onions and salt and matzoh meal in.

I rendered turkey and chicken skins and fat from birds that had been brined. For the first time I understood why my grandparents and great aunts and uncles thought it was a treat to smear schmaltz on a good piece of Jewish rye.

But, shhhh, don't let my family know. What's your latke secret?

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  1. To hand-shred the potatoes, and then wring them out as well as possible before mixing with all the other ingredients, which are the same as yours. And schmaltz is mandatory. Ooooh, and to serve? Of course applesauce and sour cream must be to the table, but likewise great is fresh cranberry sauce w/ a bit of fresh ginger - such a ridiculously good combination with roasted chicken, or onion pot roast..

    1. I've never tried frying my latkes in schmaltz. Like mamachef, wringing the potatoes until my hands are sore is a prerequisite. Adding back the potato starch is a given, sour cream a must. And while I've always loved the latkes I end up with, your schmaltz is making me think my shtick isn't as good as I thought.

      1. Hmmm, never considered Valium...

        Seriously, my "secret" is frying in a mix of olive oil and grapeseed oil. Otherwise, nothing but grated russets, onion, egg, and potato starch. The schmaltz sounds good, I am going to give it a try.

        1. Our daughter makes latkes that are crisp. I don't know what recipe or cooking method she uses, but they are always delicious. She half Italian on her mother's side. Maybe that's a plus.

          1. I confess I tried using hash browns the first night instead of hand grating. Eatable but not great. Lacked the liquid and starch. Just not the right texture. To be honest It took more time to thaw the hash browns as it did to grate the potatoes by hand.

            The second night I grated 4 large Idaho potatoes on a box grater using the large holes and one med onion grated on the small holes as well as 2 eggs. Left the liquid instead of squeezing out and really liked the texture better than when I've squeezed most of the liquid out. The natural potato starch and liquid make for a very nice texture. Golden brown and crispy

            2 Replies
            1. re: scubadoo97

              Recently as an experiment, in a quest for the crispiest latkes ever, I omitted the egg altogether. Using only shredded potatoes (wrung dry), chopped onion, salt and pepper, and a bit of potato starch, the result was phenomenal. I did miss the flavor contribution of the egg somewhat, but they were in fact the crispiest latkes I ever had. Schmaltz is great to fry them in, as is olive oil...but bacon fat is even better.

              1. re: The Professor

                I tried a similar experiment, but I kept the egg and omitted the starch, with similar results. I really think only one or the other is necessary.