Wednesday, December 1, 2010


So, I hear it's the first night of Hanukkah or something. At least that's what Matt Lauer said this morning; the only thing I am religious about is my skincare routine. But as I was driving home tonight with a pit in my stomach, I remembered Matt's wish that I have a happy Hannukah, and suddenly an atavistic urge to commemorate the Macabee's triumph over their (OUR) foes by frying starches in oil overcame me.

In my opinion, there are 2 kids of latkes in this world: Temple Latkes and Home Latkes. Temple Latkes may be scratch latkes, but they're made in huge quantities and have a gummier consistency and a more institutional taste. I know people who prefer these, and they have a certain charm, but I am not one of those people. (These are the same people who prefer Stovetop stuffing to homemade stuffing. Again, I can appreciate the appeal, but you have to draw the line somewhere). Homemade latkes can vary, but they never get mushy like temple latkes. They are usually hand grated, or, at the very least, produced in small batches. This is how I make mine.

1 medium russet potato
part of a yellow onion
1 egg, beaten
some matzo meal
kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
fresh pepper
oil (I use olive)

First, get a clean tea towel and dampen it. you don't want it saturated with water, just damp. Grate your potato into the center of the towel and follow that with some onion--you only want 2 teaspoons or so of grated onion in all. Gather the ends of the tea towel together and start twisting the potatoes and onions into a ball, over a bowl. Twist out ALL of the liquid into the bowl. Twist again. You want to squeeze all the moisture from the potatoes. Let the water settle for a second, then carefully pour out the water. There should be some potato starch left at the bottom of the bowl. You want it. Incorporate the potato/onion mixture into this, add the beaten egg, and then add a teaspoon or 2 of the matzo meal. Season with a generous pinch of salt and grinding of pepper. Meanwhile, you should have been heating some oil in a pan. Preferably a good, seasoned cast iron pan. This recipe will yield 4 latkes and I recommend cooking the first one on it's own. The subsequent ones will come out better than the first. Drop some of the latke batter into the hot oil and use a spatula to flatten and shape the pancake. Turn it over when it's golden, and drain on paper towels when it's done. Serve with sour cream and apple sauce, or, in this case, homemade pear butter.

1 comment:

  1. Hell yes! I feel the religious fire coming on. Oh--that's just the caramel pie schmutz on my oven floor. Still, your latkes look amazing and inspiring.