I learned to make latkes shortly after I met my now-husband, Matt. He moved from New York City to Las Vegas and was homesick for the Jewish foods he grew up with.
Latkes are potato pancakes fried in oil. They are, in my opinion, the ultimate comfort food. They're usually topped with either sour cream or applesauce. Latkes are most traditionally made during Chanukah, but we make them on other holidays like Passover too.
I fry my latkes 3 at a time, in a large Dutch oven, with plenty of oil. I heat the oil over medium heat; the lower temperature allows the inside of the latke to cook before the outside gets too crispy. I also make sure to prepare a large sheet pan lined with paper towels with wire racks on top - this allows the oil to drip off the latke, which keeps them very crisp.
This recipe creates about 14 thick, well-formed latkes. Latkes are best eaten immediately, but they are pretty good the next day - if reheated properly. Leftover latkes, should they exist, are easily reheated in the oven (reheat by preheating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and lining a large sheet pan with wire racks - this will allow hot air to circulate underneath, which makes for a better and crispier leftover latke; bake leftover latkes for about 15 minutes).
- 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 1 cup matzo meal
- 3 tablespoons potato starch
- 2 eggs, whisked together
- 4 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- Canola oil, for frying
- Cheese cloth, for removing excess water from the potatoes
Using a box grater, shred the potatoes, and place them into a large bowl. Immediately cover the potatoes with cold water - this prevents the shredded potatoes from oxidizing. Shred the yellow onions using either a box grater or a food processor, and set aside. Next, strain the shredded potatoes and rinse them with more cold water.
On a flat surface lay multiple layers of cheesecloth or a thin kitchen towel. Place the strained potatoes in the middle of the cloth, and dump the shredded onions on top. Wrap the cloth into a tight ball - squeeze hard to remove any excess water. This is the most important step. Getting as much moisture as possible out of the potatoes and onions will make for a crispier latke.
Next, place the potatoes and onions into a large dry bowl. Add the matzo meal, potato starch, and whisked eggs - season with salt and pepper. Mix the contents of the bowl either with your hands or a large wooden spoon.
Heat at least ½ inch of oil in a heavy bottom pan over medium heat. Test the oil temperature by dropping a small piece of shredded potato into the pot. The oil will sizzle around the potato when it's at the correct temperature.
Scoop up about a ½ cup of the potato mixture and form the latke in the palm of your hand - gently press the latke with your hands to form a flat top. Using a metal spatula, slowly lower the latkes into the hot oil. Cook the latkes in batches - for about 5 minutes per side. Drain the latkes on a wire rack. Repeat until the remaining latke mix is gone. Serve with chopped chives or green onions, and top with apple sauce or sour cream.