Oh Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah...
The Festival of Lights begins tomorrow evening, so in its honor, I thought I'd do a little latke poll. Like many aspects of Jewish cooking, potato pancakes seem to inspire strong opinions. My personal feeling is that the classic version(see recipe below), made from grated raw potatoes, is by far the best. I like them crispy but not too hard-for the perfect contrast of textures, there should also be a thicker, soft section in the center and lots of thin, crispy strands on the edges. (To accomplish this, I don't squeeze out the water from the grated potatoes, but I do press down on the pancakes as they cook to spread them out a bit. If you like them very crispy, use a kitchen towel to squeeze the excess moisture from the potatoes before mixing them with the rest of the ingredients.)
On the other end of the softness spectrum, there's the mashed potato latke, in my opinion a b------ ization of the form. But I know some people who appreciate these plump, pillowy creations in their own right. And of course, chefs are constantly coming up with "reinvented" versions of the latke: beet latkes, parsnip latkes, curried latkes, latkes with Asian flavors. Just about anything that can be grated or pulsed in a food processor can be mixed into a batter and called a latke. And the ubiquity of the potato in world cuisines means that even classic spud versions take well to a variety of ethnic additions.
CLASSIC POTATO PANCAKES
Epicurious | December 2005
Developed by Andrew Friedman
Yield: Makes about 24 pancakes
This is the classic latke, made with little more than grated potatoes and onions, with egg and flour for binding.
- 1 medium onion, peeled
- 4 large russet or Idaho potatoes (about 3 1/2 pounds), peeled
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Applesauce and/or sour cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 200°F. Place 2 nonstick baking sheets in oven.
Using box grater or food processor fitted with grating disc, coarsely grate onion and place in colander set in sink. Coarsely grate potatoes, add to colander, and set aside to drain.
In large mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs, then whisk in flour.
Press potatoes and onion to extract as much liquid as possible, then add to egg/flour mixture. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using wooden spoon or hands, mix well, but do not overwork.
In heavy-bottomed, 12-inch skillet over moderately high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter until hot but not smoking. Drop 4 scant 1/4-cup portions of potato mixture into pan and flatten with spatula to form four 3-inch pancakes.
Fry until bottoms are golden-brown, 4 to 5 minutes, then turn over and fry until golden-brown and crisp, an additional 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; season immediately with salt and pepper. Keep warm on baking sheets in oven while making remaining pancakes.
Using paper towels, carefully wipe out pan. Add 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter and fry 4 more pancakes. Repeat with remaining batter, wiping out pan and adding 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter before each batch.
Serve pancakes hot with applesauce and/or sour cream.
What do you think? Take our poll and let us know which type of latke you think is best, and if you have any of your own cooking tips or creative renditions, please share them in the comments.
by Sarah Kagan
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