‘Tis time to dispel the myth that latkes are only to be enjoyed by Jews and their fortunate dinner guests around Hannukah. Growing up, these potato pancakes were a year-round treat, and oft enjoyed after Sunday mass. And while I firmly believe these pancakes are just as tasty any other time of the year, I do appreciate the eight-day window in which it is practically a must to make these.
There are almost as many variations on the potato pancake as there are on the dumpling. There are those that puree their potatoes, while others prefer to coarsely grate them, and create something more akin to a lump of hash browns–what is the world coming to?
I personally am a fan of a creamy but not pureed center, and a very crispy outer layer. My mother always denied me the pleasure of frying these to an almost burnt crisp, citing some concerns about the potential of a grease fire. Now that I run my own kitchen, I am free to fry (do I hear the slogan of a new food movement?) these pancakes as long as my cholesterol-laden heart desires. Say it with me, reckless twenty-somethings: Free to Fry! Free to Fry!
Though, please, make these however you wish. This batter is good for both thin and thick latkes. And with eight days to enjoy these, you have plenty of opportunities to make all the variations you can imagine–my mother has an excellent rendition that features no onion, but rather thin slices of apples submerged in the batter.
Potato Latkes (Or the Pancakes Formerly Known As Placki)
From Mommy’s Kitchen
Makes 3-4 servings, depending on hunger
4 large Idaho potatoes (or other large potatoes)
1 large yellow or white onion (a medium onion will do, but a large one is easier to grate)
3-6 heaping tablespoons flour
salt and pepper, to taste
vegetable oil, enough to coat pan
Sour cream, sugar, applesauce, or any combination thereof, for dipping
Peel the potatoes. Finely grate the potatoes, and remove as much of the excess water as possible. The potatoes may turn some funky colors; I’ve seen everything from brown to red to purple to green. Do not fret. Grate the onion and mix with the potatoes.
Place egg into the potato mixture, and whisk to combine. Add flour, starting with 3 tablespoons, and mix to combine. Add flour until the mixture is not too wet. Add salt and pepper to the mixture to taste.
Pour vegetable oil onto skillet. You want about 1/8 inch of oil in the pan. Heat the oil on medium to high heat.
Drop the latke mixture onto the pan in 3-4 inch diameter circles. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or to desired crispiness. Flip and cook the other side.
To keep latkes warm, you may place them on a baking sheet in an oven preheated to about 200 degrees.
Eat warm, with applesauce. Or, if you want to look like you have been eating latkes since you were in the womb, mix some sugar directly into your sour cream, and dip your latkes in the mixture. If you are my father, top your latkes with so much sugar that it becomes a mystery what is below the mountain of white, and then dip in sour cream.
Happy Jew-lidays to all, and to all a grease fire free night!