Potato Latkes

This recipe's contributor doesn't know what her grandchildren will call her—she says it's up for negotiation. I'll call her Mrs. G, here.

Mrs. G and her husband and kids were my family's next door neighbors until we moved away when I was eight. Every Chanukah Mrs. G invited us over to her house, probably for a full dinner, but I only remember eating the gold-foiled chocolate coins called gelt and many, many latkes. The smell of their frying oil practically greeted my family at the door, "Come inside…take a break from Christmas!" and we happily did.

Thank you, Mrs. G, for sharing this personal recipe. My first bite of a latke after 16 years transported me to your living room floor, playing dreidel with A- and hearing her contagious, bubbly laughter.

Ingredients

(~1.5 pounds) 3 large Russet potatoes
(170 g) 1 medium white onion
2 large eggs
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon iodized salt
5 cracks freshly ground pepper
canola oil (for frying)
for dipping:
apple sauce

*If celebrating Passover: replace flour with matzo meal, and omit baking powder.

Instructions

Serves 3-4

Beat in a small bowl and let come to room temperature:
2 large eggs

Mix well in a small bowl:
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon iodized salt
5 cracks freshly ground pepper

Peel, and then grate together in a food processor (equipped with the grater blade), or grate by hand:
(~1.5 pounds) 3 large Russet potatoes
(170 g) 1 medium white onion
One handful at a time, scoop the potato and onion shreds into a tea towel. Wring out as much water as you can, and toss the dried potato clump into a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining potato, wringing out the tea towel between each handful. Unfortunately, you have to repeat the whole drying process a second time, but it'll be worth the work: crispy latkes, strong biceps, and less explosive frying. With your hands, stir the beaten eggs into the doubly-dried potato shreds, and then stir in the flour mix.

*For an alternative one-round drying process using cheesecloth and a wooden spoon, visit Serious Eats' recipe.


COOKING

Put a 12-inch cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat, and once it's hot, pour in a 1/4-inch-high pool of:
canola oil
While the oil gets hot, start shaping the latkes. Scoop up ~2 Tablespoons of potato shreds in your hands, squeeze them for a final drain over the sink, and then shape them into a 3-inch round patty. Try to make the center the same thickness as the edges for even cooking. With a slotted spatula, lay five or so patties in the hot oil, not overcrowding the pan. Fry until golden brown on both sides (about 5 minutes for the first side and less for the second side). Lift the latkes out of the oil with the slotted spatula, and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat the shaping and frying process with the rest of the potato.


ASSEMBLY

You and your guests should eat the latkes hot, before they cool on a dining table. For dipping, set out:
applesauce

 
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