FORGET sweet potato and apple. Same goes for celery root, beet and carrot, zucchini, stuffed and filled. I may be modern but I’m also a minimalist and I like my latkes the old fashioned way. Nothing fancy. Potato, onion, a little flour or matzoh meal and a little salt and that’s it. I’m always on the lookout, however, for improvements on the original. Luckily, I came across Deb Perlman’s recipe for latkes on her blog, Smitten Kitchen just in time for Chanukah. It was just the recipe I was looking for – a couple minimal changes on the classic that ended up making a big difference.
First, Perlman puts the potatoes in the feed tube of the food processer the long way resulting in longer shreds that hold up better when frying. Then she uses a cheese cloth to strain all the potato liquid which is brilliant really as it not only does a much better job getting all the liquid out but it’s also much quicker than straining through a colander. It’s less messy too which makes for an easier clean-up. Perlman also swears by a cast iron skillet which produces a nice crispy browning.
The results were tested amongst some pretty picky latke lovers and it was unanimous – these were a winner!
Latkes recipe by Deb Perlman from Smitten Kitchen
(Note- I quadrupled the recipe for our family of 4. The below is just a suggested ratio guide)
1 large baking potato (1 pound), peeled
1 small onion (4 ounces), peeled
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Peanut oil, for frying (I used olive oil)
In a food processor or on a box grater, coarsely shred the potato and onion. For longer strands, lay the potato sideways in the chute of your food processor. Transfer to a colander or wrap in a cheesecloth sling, and squeeze as dry as possible. Let stand for 2 minutes, then squeeze dry again.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, egg, salt and pepper together. Stir in the potato onion mixture until all pieces are evenly coated.
In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil until shimmering. Drop packed teaspoons of the potato mixture into the skillet and flatten them with the back of a spoon. Cook the latkes over moderately high heat until the edges are golden, about 1 1/2 minutes; flip and cook until golden on the bottom, about 1 minute. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture, adding more oil to the skillet as needed.