Every year I swear that I won't do it again the next year. Latkes. But then, the holiday season approaches: bright lights fill the sky, Christmas music blares from every radio station, the streets of NYC are packed with holiday shoppers. I can't help but love this time of year. It is my absolute favorite. In place of a Christmas tree, I decorate a "Chanukkah Table", full of wrapped gifts for my children, dreidels, tons of chanukkah gelt, and menorahs. I guess it's as close as I can get. And once I'm in the holiday spirit, I can't help but get the urge to whip out the potatoes and onions and start from scratch. I know that I could pick up some pretty decent latkes at many places in New York, but we all know that nothing, I mean nothing, beats homemade. So, with my Christmas music blasting, I roll up my sleeves, crack the windows open, and start frying...
But, I will say that this year was different than most. I think I may have finally figured out how to actually enjoy the latke making process. Below you will find a few tips in red.
Best Potato Latkes
makes about 22 small latkes (actually the perfect size!)
In the past I have made huge, huge batches- that kept me frying on 3 frying pans for hours. This is a mistake. You are better off making small quantites and doing it a few times, rather than doing it all in one shot. Trust me. Large batches end up burning, and the mess is just too much to handle.
4 large russet potatoes, peeled
4 small-medium yellow onions
3/4 cup matzo meal (this is the real deal, old school)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons rice bran oil or canola oil (I use rice bran oil for frying, it's a healthier alternative and makes no difference in taste)
Grate the potatoes and onions in a food processor or on a box grater. You can do them seperately or at the same time. Now, you will need to squeeze out the extra liquid from the potatoes and onions. I find that the best way to do this is by wringing them out in a towel to get as much of the liquid out as possible. Take an old, but clean towel, and place about 3 cups of your gratings into it, and wrap the towel around it. Wring them out and then place into a large bowl, do this with all of your gratings.
In a seperate bowl, crack 3 of the eggs, and beat with a fork. Stir the matzo meal into the beaten egg. Pour the gratings into the egg bowl, and use your hands to smush it all together. The mixture should be sticky and wet, but not too wet. There should not be any liquid swimming in the bottom of the bowl. If you feel that your mixture is too dry, take the remaining egg, and crack it into a small bowl, beat it with a fork. Pour a drop of that beaten egg into your potato-onion mixture. You do not need to add all of the egg, just as a much as is needed. Add the salt and pepper, and mix well.
Prepare a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and let it get hot. I like my latkes to be uniform in size, so I use a small ice cream scooper to measure out each latke. Scoop out 4 latke mounds and place on the pan, press down slightly so they are flattened a bit. Now, listen carefully:
Be patient, and do not overcrowd your pan. Resist the urge to touch, pat, move, or flip the latkes too early on. Let them cook for at least 2 minutes per side. Keep the temperature at medium-high and do not play with the temperature dial. They are better off cooking slowly that way they don't burn on the outside and undercook on the inside. Flip them once, when really golden, and cook on the other side for 3 minutes longer. Remove from heat and pace on a paper towel-lined baking sheet to cool. Now, take a step bake and relish in your glory. Take a bite- and see why they really are worth the fuss. Happy Chanukkah and Happy Holidays to all!
Peel your potatoes & onions (I used more than 4 potatoes because mine were teeny tiny!)
Grate your potatoes and onions
Place your grating in a dish towel
Wrap the towel around the gratings
Wring the gratings in the towel- squeeze like crazt to get as much liquid out as possible!
Beat your eggs in a seperate bowl
Pour the potato and onion into the egg and matzo meal
Use your hands to combine
For perfectly sized latkes, use a small ice cream scooper
I fry mine in Rice Bran Oil
Heat the oil over medium-high heat
Be patient and don't over-crowd the pan
Fry until golden & crisp
Let cool on a paper towel line baking sheet