Saturday, December 8, 2012

Potato Pancakes (Latkes)

I first saw this recipe for Potato Latkes in Food and Wine Magazine a couple years ago.  It was contributed by F&W editor Gail Simmons (of Top Chef fame) as part of her perfect Hanukkah celebration.

These are perfect latkes.  They are crisp and crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.  Too often potato pancakes are dense and heavy and greasy, but not these.  The trick is to squeeze out as much water from the potatoes and onions as possible before making the batter.  It is also important to maintain the right oil temperature during frying, too hot will burn the pancakes, too low will result in a doughy greasy lump.

I use the grating disc on my food processor to grate the potatoes and onions which makes this usually tedious chore a breeze.  I also fry them in a heavy non-stick skillet so I never have an issue of them sticking to the pan.

I like to serve these the traditional way, with sour cream and applesauce, but they are also an excellent foil for smoked salmon or seared scallops.

Potato Pancakes (Latkes)
makes about 24

3 1/2 pound Russet potatoes, peeled
2 large onions, peeled
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt

1 cup vegetable oil (for frying)

Preheat the oven to 200F.

Grate the potatoes and onions and place them in a colander.  With your hands, firmly squeeze the potatoes and onions to remove as much water as possible.

Grated potatoes and onions ready for squeezing

In a large bowl combine potatoes, onions, eggs, flour baking powder and salt.  Mix together well, then transfer mixture back to the colander and put it over the mixing bowl.  Let rest for 5 minutes. (This step removes any excess batter from the mix, keeping your pancakes light and crisp).

Mix the potatoes and onions with the remaining ingredients to make batter...

Then let that batter drain through a colander into the mixing bowl.

While pancake batter is resting, heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat for 5 minutes.

Drop about 1/4 cup of batter gently into the hot oil and gently spread it with your spatula to make a pancake.  NOW LEAVE IT ALONE.  Do NOT poke at it.  Let it fry undisturbed until the edges of the pancake appear golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.

Pancakes should sizzle immediately when added to the oil

When the edges of the pancake are golden, then it is time to flip them

Only when the edges of the pancake are golden, should you flip the pancake with a spatula.  Fry the other side until golden brown.  Remove pancakes to a baking sheet lined with paper towels and place in the preheated oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

Serve hot with sour cream and applesauce.

Tools for success:

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