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Bennett’s Mom’s Latkes

mom’s latkes, topped with some obscene fish products (courtesy of jordan)

My mother used to come in to our elementary school classrooms armed with a box grater and a plug-in frying pan to make latkes every year around Hanukkah. The entire school would smell like oil but nobody cared because of how delicious these potato pancakes are. Essential for any Hanukkah party (and delicious year-round).

 

INGREDIENTS

  • russet potatoes (1 5-lb bag should feed a party)
  • yellow onions (1 trader joe’s-sized bag is more than enough)
  • matzo meal
  • eggs
  • salt n’ pepper
  • oil with a high smoke point (NOT olive oil)- preferrably peanut; canola or sunflower work

HARDWARE

  • potato peeler
  • box grater or cuisinart
  • collander
  • big bowl
  • wide, deep pan for shallow-frying
  • a spatula

HOWTO

  • peel potatoes. cover the peeled potatoes in cold water to prevent browning. (once they’re in water, you can let them rest a bit.)
  • grate potatoes with one of the larger openings on your box grater into the collander. not the super largest, but not the small ones. you know what I’m talking about. I usually do 3 or so potatoes in a batch.
  • once you’ve grated the potatoes, grab them by the handful from the collander and SQUEEZE to get as much liquid as you can out of them. place those gratings into a bowl. repeat until all gratings are squozen.
  • peel an onion and grate it into the grated potato using the same side of the box grater you used to grate the potatoes
  • crack in two eggs, sprinkle in some matzo meal (no idea how much— 1/2 cup?), and season with salt and pepper, then MIX. you can use a wooden spoon if you want, but hands are best. the mixture shouldn’t be too liquidy but shouldn’t be too dry- use more matzo meal to make it dryer and more egg to wet it, if needed.
  • wash all the latke clumps off your hand.
  • add the oil to the pan. i’d say about 1/2” thick? then heat the oil. I’ve never used a thermometer for this but if you have one of those plug-in frying pans like my mom used to use when she’d cook latkes for my school, I’d say set it to 375º. the oil’s ready when you can drop a shred of the potato into the oil and it bubbles instantly. any lower and the latkes will come out oily and not brown well.
  • bonus points: set your oven to its lowest setting (200º or ‘warm’) and place a cookie sheet in there with a drying rack on top of it.
  • when the oil’s ready, take tablespoon-ish sized clump of the mixture and form into roughly a patty. there can be potato tentacles coming out the edges; it doesn’t need to be a perfect silver dollar. lower these clumps gently into the oil, one by one.
  • flip them when they’re lightly brown on one side- after a few minutes.
  • after they’re brown on the second side, remove them one-by-one from the pan and place either on a plate covered in paper towels or the rack in your warm oven. I have never been at a party where these haven’t been consumed as fast as they’ve been made, so building up a cache of these could let you drop them on the party all at once.
  • serve with applesauce and sour cream and anything your crazy heart desires. especially caviar.