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.