Sunday, July 13, 2008

Latkes or Jewish Potato Pancakes


Recipe courtesy of Marc Silverstein for Food Network Kitchens (December 1999).

2 pounds russet potatoes, grated fine
1 medium to large onion, grated fine
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup matzo meal
Salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil, for frying
Sour cream and apple sauce, as accompaniments

Personal Note: The ingredients list is from Silverstein, but the rest of the recipe was for some reason never retrieved (read: printed fully out) and the online version is long gone. So the method below might be his, but might not be; it works well for us. The part salvaged from the incomplete recipe that is vital is the drying part. A relatively dry potato-onion "batter" makes all the difference (we've made latkes for years but they only really became joygasmic at our house once we found Silverstein's version).

Peel the potatoes and rough chop (into thirds or so) so they're in chunks large enough to feed through the food processor. Do the same for the onion. Grate both into the food processor using the rough-grate blade disc (not the fine one) and feeding the chunks into the processor (empty the processor bowl as needed and continue until everything is grated into rough short strings, kind of like homemade pasta). Using a kitchen towel, dry the grated potatoes and onions thoroughly (this is important). Put them in a large bowl (we use the largest widest mouthed one we have; a silver salad tossing bowl). Add the beaten eggs and matzo meal and mix with your hands until it's the correct consistency. Add the salt and pepper and mix a bit more. We then heat up just enough vegetable oil in the large fryer-sized cast iron skillet. Using a spatula and a spoon, we place a lump of the potato mixture onto the spatula, flatten it with the spoon, and slide it into the oil (we do 3 pancakes at a time). When the edges begin to get crispy and golden brown, check to flip sides. As each pancake finishes cooking (we like them golden brown, not too dark but crispy through the whole exterior) place them on a rack above an old cookie sheet. If you wish to keep them warm as you fry, place this rack/sheet in a semi-warm oven (we had ours at about 145 F) and keep taking it out and in as more pancakes finish and become ready to place on the rack.

I cooked all of dinner tonight kind of on a casual whim and I was surprised at how easy and good it turned out. I made some ad-libbed apple sauce with leftover empire apples (some of our older apples were too soft to be enticing as eating apples but fine for other purposes), freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon, a little bit of brown sugar (I don't normally add this but tonight the apples seemed a bit too tart even for my taste) and a bit of lemon juice (spruces up apples always) and water. Just stuck it all in a deep saucepan and cooked it down at medium heat. Turned out well. As it was cooking I prepared the latke mixture (something I've done before). I'd say tonight I used 2 1/2 pounds of russets, 2 1/2 large onions (they were huge onions, and one was one of those that you find after peeling has a small side onion attached to it)--I always make ours a little more onion-y than called for--and the rest of the ingredients. I wasn't sure at first that there was enough binding agent, but the latkes came out just fine. And the applesauce was still tart and warm when we began eating. Yum.

No comments: