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Latkes
December 2, 2012 6:07 PM   Subscribe

Hanukkah draws nigh and that means latkes. [The oil in which the potato pancake is cooked symbolizes the miraculously long-burning fuel that lit the Second Temple.] Bubala Please shows you how to keep it real.

Elsewhere, in the inaugural episode of Saveur magazine's Dueling Dishes video series, chefs Eli Sussman and Craig Koketsu vie for latke supremacy.

Of course, latkes can only be properly prepared by one's mother or grandmother. However, if she is not available, the following recipe comes from the pages of The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate - a compendium of the annual academic proceedings. (very previously)

-----

(Makes about 28 potato pancakes, 2-3 inches each)

2 pounds russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and placed in a bowl of cold water
1/3 cup grated onion
2 eggs, lightly beaten (1 egg per pound of potatoes)*
1 cup all-purpose flour (best) or 1/2 cup matzo meal**
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Peanut or canola oil for frying

Line a large baking sheet with paper towels. If not serving the latkes immediately—out of the frying pan into the dining room—preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Have a large bowl of cold water ready.

Grate the potatoes, using a hand grater or food processor fitted with the medium shredding disc. As potatoes are grated, transfer them to the bowl of water. When all of the potatoes are grated, set aside for 5 minutes. Drain the shredded potatoes in a large colander, rinsing with cold water. Transfer to a clean bowl.

Add the onion, the eggs, flour, salt, and pepper. Thoroughly combine the mixture.

In a large, preferably straight-sided pan, add oil to a depth of 1/4 to 1/3 inch. Heat oil until a shred of potato dropped in the oil sizzles immediately.

Form pancakes, using 2 tablespoons from a regular silverware set. Scoop up a generous spoonful of the potato mixture with one spoon, flatten the mixture with the other spoon. Slide the latke into the oil. Repeat until the pan is full, but not crowded. Cook the latkes until browned at the edges. Turn the latkes over and cook until fully browned. Transfer the finished latkes to the lined baking sheet to drain excess oil. Repeat with the remaining mixture.

If not serving the latkes immediately, transfer the sheet to the preheated oven to keep warm. If serving even later, set the latkes aside to cool to room temperature, then freeze until ready to serve. Reheat the latkes in a 350-degree oven, and drain again on paper towels because reheating will release more oil.

Serve with sour cream or applesauce. Add salt to taste.

* Too many eggs will overwhelm the taste of potato.

** Too much starch will make the latkes heavy. Use only about 1/2 cup flour or 1/4 cup matzah meal per pound of potatoes—just enough to bind the mixture. If doubling the recipe, add flour slowly; the full amount may not be needed. Toward the end, the mixture gets very loose. It is better to release the extra liquid by squeezing it on a spoon rather than by adding more flour.
posted by Egg Shen (75 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have had very good results with this minimalist recipe: process peeled potatoes until you have a fine slurry. Add salt and pepper to taste, then ladle onto a griddle as if it were pancake batter. You can add onions to the first step, but don't add eggs (which will make it too watery) or matza meal (which will make it dry and cake-y).
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:11 PM on December 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


If not serving the latkes immediately

Serve the latkes immediately, what are you, crazy?
posted by restless_nomad at 6:14 PM on December 2, 2012 [16 favorites]


That video got less funny and more racist as it went on.
posted by Jon_Evil at 6:32 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


So many cusses :(
posted by boo_radley at 6:32 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The first thing that is wrong with this is those latkes are not in my mouth.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:37 PM on December 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm Lutheran. Is there a convenient frozen toaster version?
posted by hal9k at 6:38 PM on December 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm Lutheran. Is there a convenient frozen toaster version?

Tater tots?
posted by restless_nomad at 6:45 PM on December 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is the greatest holiday book about screaming latkes that mankind will ever produce. It's also one of my favorite holiday stories ever.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:48 PM on December 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


hal9k: "Is there a convenient frozen toaster version?"

Yes.


hal9k: "I'm Lutheran. "

Wait until they're out of the toaster to add the cream of mushroom soup and green beans, though.
posted by boo_radley at 6:49 PM on December 2, 2012 [15 favorites]


Do not peel! Time waster!
posted by atomicstone at 6:57 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the true spirit of jewish holiday giving I am here to earworm you all with Dayenu.

you are welcome.
posted by elizardbits at 6:57 PM on December 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


That video got less funny and more racist as it went on.


yeah seriously, whaaaaaaat was that
posted by threeants at 6:58 PM on December 2, 2012


On a non-racism note, does anyone have a good latke recipe without eggs?
posted by threeants at 7:05 PM on December 2, 2012


In the true spirit of jewish holiday giving I am here to earworm you all with Dayenu.

Oh, eff you, that was totally unfair. Well, maybe I had it coming; my sister and I used to torment anyone within earshot with our "jingle rock bell" version, like "Ilu hotzi-hotzi-hotzi / hotzi-ilu, ilu-hotzi / hotzi-anu ilu-hotzi / da-ye-nu!" Cantor Dad would just sit there all #-_-#;;
posted by jake at 7:15 PM on December 2, 2012


jewish food is like some sort of calorie competition

you people would stare, jaws slackened, at your screens if i were to divulge my mother's kugel recipe
posted by ninjew at 7:17 PM on December 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


elizardbits that is the wrong holiday YOU STOP IT NOW
posted by ninjew at 7:21 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


you people would stare, jaws slackened, at your screens if i were to divulge my mother's kugel recipe

My mom's involves at least five different dairy products and three different simple carbohydrates. That is not hyperbole.
posted by threeants at 7:22 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not to excuse the dumb stereotyping, but the history of Judaism in Mexico is surprisingly long and substantial.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:24 PM on December 2, 2012


annoying people with dayenu is always seasonally appropriate

how dare you deny me the traditions of our people you oppressor
posted by elizardbits at 7:24 PM on December 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


you people would stare, jaws slackened, at your screens if i were to divulge my mother's kugel recipe

Eleven eggs. Why eleven and not twelve, I have no idea - I suspect a great-great-grandfather had a craving for a boiled egg on exactly the wrong day, once.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:24 PM on December 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


you leave the last one out for elijah.
posted by elizardbits at 7:27 PM on December 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


how dare you deny me the traditions of our people you oppressor

He's probably just the wicked second son saying "These are YOUR traditions."
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:29 PM on December 2, 2012


P.S. I'm not Jewish so I don't know if that's actually funny to anyone who didn't go to my father's college roommate's family's bonkers Seders with their hilariously HUAC-inspired Haggadah all about FREEDOM and at the end we all sing "My Country 'Tis of Thee".
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:31 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


if he had given us 11 eggs, that would have been enough
posted by ninjew at 7:32 PM on December 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


My grandmother's noodle kugel involves ricotta cheese, cream cheese, and apricots. There are cornflakes on top. We won't even discuss how much butter the family hamentaschen recipe calls for.

(They are soooooo delicious, though.)
posted by nonasuch at 7:32 PM on December 2, 2012


Ah, apparently the 11th egg is my mother's addition! Grandma's "dairy noodle pudding" - apparently she wrote out her recipes to be comprehensible to goyim. I've never in my life heard her, or anyone else, actually call it that.
posted by restless_nomad at 7:39 PM on December 2, 2012


Mrs. P, I want that Haggadah.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 7:47 PM on December 2, 2012


that would have been enough

This might be just me, but if I come across a reference to almost any part of the seder, I immediately hear an off-pitched wail of "twooooouuu-uuuu zuzim!"

Probably just me.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:52 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The correct song to get stuck in your head for this holiday is Candlelight.
posted by capricorn at 7:53 PM on December 2, 2012


Hmm, our family's kugel is eggless (aside from being with egg noodles). It's not cakey like some, though; it's very loose aside from the browning on top.
posted by threeants at 7:58 PM on December 2, 2012


"Healthy" Jewish food is some sort of abomination. We can't certify it as authentically Jewish cuisine until we've poured schmaltz all over it first.

OK, we won't pour schmaltz all over the latkes. But over everything else.

Now I want latkes.

(However, the big Jewish deli near my parents had "pastrami-flavored salmon pasta" as a special the other day. I was struck speechless by this combination, but a former professor of mine suggested "trayf" would be the best way of summing it up.)
posted by thomas j wise at 7:58 PM on December 2, 2012


How is this thread now about Pesach?

While we're here, at least, allow me to recall the time my dad hid the Afikoman TOO well, and we searched every dresser and nightstand in the house, which turned out to be an incredibly, profoundly horrible idea, because sometimes there are things in mommy and daddy's nightstands that you can't un-discover.
posted by jake at 8:00 PM on December 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


I know it's 10 pm, but if anyone in Chicago was inspired to cook reading this thread, I'll bring cash/booze/whatever it takes to get in on this action.

(I will also put on pants.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:01 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


How is this thread now about Pesach?

It's not. It's about food, which is what every conversation with my Jewish relatives turns into. And my Jewish friends.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:02 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK, we won't pour schmaltz all over the latkes.

No, no. You cook them in the schmaltz!
posted by Ghidorah at 8:06 PM on December 2, 2012


On a non-racism note, does anyone have a good latke recipe without eggs?

The first time I made latkes (which my mother calls "mock fish") I used egg replacer as a binding agent. They were okay, but not great. I reckon you can't go past this or this version. I've never added the matzoh meal, turned out fine, if messy.

And now I use eggs. Still messy.

I never use schmaltz, either. Just regular vegetable oil.

I will now watch as this thread continues to devolve into incomprehensible Yiddish, as these things always to. (My yiddish-English dictionary is open in the other window).
posted by Mezentian at 8:10 PM on December 2, 2012


I watched the latke supremacy video, and I enjoyed it, and learned stuff. Good video, although Craig Koketsu annoyed me with his "twists".

Trying to work out who Bubala Please didn't try to offend.
Palestinians, maybe.
posted by Mezentian at 8:19 PM on December 2, 2012


On a non-racism note, does anyone have a good latke recipe without eggs?

Psst! Behind you!
posted by smoke at 8:24 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


let me give you the secret to egg-free latkes.

you just have to promise not to share


the secret is



besan.


this is not a joke. it's really high-protein and easy to integrate.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:33 PM on December 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh I believe it. Sounds great. Latloo tikke.
posted by threeants at 8:38 PM on December 2, 2012


Besan?
Interesting.
Would make them hella yellow.
posted by Mezentian at 8:43 PM on December 2, 2012


SO HONGRAY
posted by elizardbits at 8:54 PM on December 2, 2012


My partner's family is half Jewish and half Catholic. They make both the pureed latkes and the proper shredded ones. I wonder if this is somehow related.

I'm calling dibs on us bringing experimental besan ones this year
posted by cobaltnine at 8:59 PM on December 2, 2012


True story. I was newly married, we were eating at my parents. My wife quietly says to me "Does your mother put eggs in everything?"
I say "Oh yes."
Her: "Well, I'll eat some spinach then."
Me: "There's eggs in that too."
Her: "No! Really?"
Me: "Oh yes. Hey, mum, how many eggs do you need for this amount of spinach?"
My mother, didactically, pleased to be educating her daughter-in-law in the Ways of Hungarian Cuisine: "Well, if you're making four packets of spinach you take six eggs ...."

Important lesson: everything has eggs in it, unless it has chicken fat in it. But some things have eggs and chicken fat in them.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:08 PM on December 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gram flour? Latke pakoras? That might just be the greatest thing ever!
posted by fallingbadgers at 9:09 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Egg Shen, you forgot a step that may be important to keep them holding together as you cook (and certainly less splattery when frying) - you wring out the potatoes and onion with a cheese cloth and let sit for a minute or two to drain before mixing in the egg and flour.

I'm amazed at how much water comes out of a potato when shredded and wrung.

also seconding atomicstone - peeling is only necessary if you are trying to replicate the pain and tedium of 40 years wandering in the desert. (er. wrong holiday. whatever. They tried to kill us and failed. lets eat.)
posted by ilovemytoaster at 9:11 PM on December 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


They tried to kill us and failed. lets eat.

That may be the most succinct description of every Jewish holiday I've ever seen.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:13 PM on December 2, 2012 [25 favorites]


I resemble this post.
posted by latkes at 9:37 PM on December 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


but I only have waxy potatoes!
posted by vespabelle at 10:35 PM on December 2, 2012


Important lesson: everything has eggs in it, unless it has chicken fat in it. But some things have eggs and chicken fat in them.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:08 PM on December 2 [+] [!]


Fat of the chicken in the same dish as the egg of the chicken? Somehow, this sounds like it cannot be Kosher.
posted by helmutdog at 10:50 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's perfectly okay, as long as you don't add chicken milk.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:11 PM on December 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


SO HONGRAY

WHY DO I KEEP OPENING THIS THREAD


I DEMAND A KNISH
posted by louche mustachio at 11:13 PM on December 2, 2012


Fat of the chicken in the same dish as the egg of the chicken? Somehow, this sounds like it cannot be Kosher.

But indeed it is. My late Nana made egg yolks cooked in chicken schmaltz and lambs brains cooked in chicken schmaltz. Her husband (who I never met, for reasons about to become clear) died at 56 of a sudden and massive heart attack.

My other Nana makes latkes from heaven. My late Papa ate them with sugar because that's how they eat it in his part of Poland. My Nana refused to eat them with sugar -- they didn't do that in her part of Poland.

I've never been able to make them without them turning grey... any tips?
posted by prettypretty at 11:25 PM on December 2, 2012


If they're turning grey before you cook them it's apparently because the starch is oxidising. Keep them under water, possibly with a squeeze of lemon juice in it.l If they're turning grey after cooking it's because of a complex chemical reaction which is not well understood, and the best you can do is try another type of potato.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:47 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


My recipe for goy latkes has no egg, no onion, no flour or matzo meal. Just plenty of starchy potatoes, salt, pepper and a good portion of fresh thyme mixed in and a dash of lime juice.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:20 AM on December 3, 2012


My partner's family is half Jewish and half Catholic. They make both the pureed latkes and the proper shredded ones. I wonder if this is somehow related.

Irish Catholic? Because they pureed recipe sounds like boxty to me.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:13 AM on December 3, 2012


My reading indicates that boxty uses flour, as well as purred (or mashed) potato. My extensive study of the subject turned up the following nuggets of information:

1) The first mention of latkes in an English text, according to the OED, is 1926.
2) Latkes in Israel are called levivot, apparently from a hapax legomenon in Samuel II. Nobody knows what this word meant originally.
3) The reason Israelis eat jam doughnuts rather than latkes on Chanuka is because of trade unions. Really.

So now you know.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:43 AM on December 3, 2012


Guys this is really unfair of you, I just had kugel on Saturday and now I am hungering for more and more and Septa definitely doesn't have a kugel vendor. Recipes??
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:03 AM on December 3, 2012


Does this not need an NSFW tag? Or at least a little indication that the language is VERY NSFW. Especially something that is presented as a recipe.

(Also, what the I don't even)
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 5:23 AM on December 3, 2012


Does this not need an NSFW tag? Or at least a little indication that the language is VERY NSFW.

Where do you work that playing a video in the office without headphones is okay?
posted by Mezentian at 5:44 AM on December 3, 2012


I got delicious results this weekend from this similar recipe, and they paired really well with this cabbage. I'm still full.
posted by HumanComplex at 7:14 AM on December 3, 2012


The reason Israelis eat jam doughnuts rather than latkes on Chanuka is because of trade unions. Really.

Yes, but there's no reason for anyone to expect that all Israelis would be eating latkes if not for the rise of the sufganiyot. As the article points out, Jews in different parts of the world eat a variety of different foods this time of year.

The other thing it neglects to clarify is why "the microwave generation" has abandoned latkes for the sake of convenience in Israel, but not in America. It does note the time-investment for latke-making, but it doesn't note that Hanukkah is a less important holiday in Israel than it is for American Jews, many of whom have an unfortunate tendency to use this relatively minor, and to some, problematic holiday as a stand-in for Christmas.
posted by snottydick at 7:14 AM on December 3, 2012


My grandma - who was indeed raised Lutheran but converted to the Baptist faith as a young woman - made "potato pancakes" that consisted of making disks of leftover mashed potatoes - no pepper, no herbs, no seasoning whatsoever - and frying them. This gave me a perverted and unnatural idea of what potato pancakes really were. Then I grew up and tasted the real thing and it was a revelation.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:51 AM on December 3, 2012


Prettypretty, if you're turning gray, please seek medical attention.
posted by theora55 at 7:52 AM on December 3, 2012


This post needs a NSFYH(Your Heart) tag. My friend grew up in a very frugal household. She soaks the potatoes and saves the starch to as binder for the lattkes. No matter what recipe, I think latkes taste best when somebody else makes them, esp. if that means somebody else's kitchen gets greasy and messy.
posted by theora55 at 7:55 AM on December 3, 2012


Extra eggs in the kugel as your barometer for heimishe unhealthiness? Amateurs.

For fancy kiddushes (and ohhhhhhhh yeah Chanukah too, baby), my shul breaks out the gribenes.
posted by Mchelly at 8:25 AM on December 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'll see your gribenes, and raise you chopped liver WITH gribenes AND schmaltz. And eggs, of course.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:12 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of the peculiarities of my family's cuisine is that my grandmother is very much a 1950s health-conscious housewife. She doesn't put salt on the table (and is always appalled when my dad asks for it,) doesn't cook most of the more traditional fat-heavy recipes, and in that collection of recipe cards is a black cherry jello mold, which is just... grandma all the way through. So while I grew up eating chopped liver, these days if she's cooking, she'll make mock liver (which is surprisingly tasty if eerily greenish) and nothing she makes involves schmaltz.

I, on the other hand, and a modern low-carb unrepentant carnivore who roasts whole chickens regularly, and am looking up gribenes recipes right now.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:03 AM on December 3, 2012


speaking of which, latkes fried in schmaltz (or better yet, duck fat)? Nes Gadol right there.
posted by Mchelly at 11:03 AM on December 3, 2012


Damn you, Mchelly.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:12 PM on December 3, 2012


I made chopped liver for a thanksgiving appetizer this year, complete with schmaltz gleaned from chilled homemade chicken soup.

The only problem was, no one likes liver. Odd. I'd thought (even though I detest the stuff) a house full of people in their thirties might have at least one or two 'food grown-ups.' Mrs. Ghidorah, who likes liver, said it tasted great, which is some consolation.

Then again, she said it would be better with pork liver instead of chicken...
posted by Ghidorah at 6:23 PM on December 3, 2012


Liver is so polarizing. I love it and eat it regularly, but I have friends that can't even discuss it.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:46 PM on December 3, 2012


Discuss it?
I'm looking for the nearest bucket.
And I had a liver in my hand last night.
posted by Mezentian at 6:48 PM on December 3, 2012


I have never been able to try cow liver, but chicken livers are delicious. Mmm. Livers and gizzards and hearts, oh my!
posted by Night_owl at 7:41 PM on December 3, 2012


I'm slowly warming up to liver in pate-form, but giant-hunk-o-liver is not in my wheelhouse yet.

Years ago, my friends and I were at an izakaya, and a large group of people had been drinking at the next table over. They got up and left just before the server came out with food that had been included with their drinks plan. We had a pretty good relationship with the place, and they just turned around and asked us if we wanted the plate of yakitori. Half of it the sticks were just chicken thigh meat, and the other half was chicken hearts. Being drunk, we accepted without hesitating. My friends, though, weren't drunk enough to give the chicken hearts a go, so those went to me. They were chewy, with a great flavor. Not a bad drunk snack.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:23 PM on December 3, 2012


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