Thursday, December 10, 2009

Latkes for Chanukah

Please Note that there have been some changes made to this reipe since it was posted.

I love Latkes, who doesn't? For me the key to a good Latka is that it should taste of potato, be crunchy and thin. Lots of hot oil helps (high temperature canola or even better organic Peanut Oil, with peanut oil it's really important to spend the extra money on organic*)

This is a recipe I have developed over 23 years of living with Neil and making them each year for Chanukah. In that time I think I have tried every possible variation included a version that had cinnamon and was made with egg noodles (I was young and adventuresome what can I tell you).
Turns out, as it usually does, the simplest recipe is the best.

Latkes Recipe

This is a recipe you should feel free to play around with, all I'm offering you here is a template, you may want more or less onions or herbs or potatoes, what is key here is the process.

Wash, but do not peel 6-8 medium to large potatoes, I like Yukon Golds (double or triple if you are using smaller fingerling type potatoes like La Ratte which are also a good choice).

Pat dry and grate on the large hole side of the grated or with the grating attachment of a food processor (forever I have made these on a box grater and they were always juicy this year I used the grater attachment with the food processor and found them to be far more dry - So I added two teaspoons of salt and tossed the potatoes with it before letting them sit for 30 minutes).

Place the grated potatoes in a sieve or colander over a bowl to allow all the liquid to drain, placing a plate over the potatoes and weighing them down with some large cans is a good idea. I usually start out by squeezing the shredded potatoes with my hands to help start things out.

Let drain for at 30 minutes.

Don't freak out - the potatoes will turn color and become brown when cooked it will become moot. If you want you can wrap the shredded potatoes in cheese cloth first before draining this helps.

While you are waiting for the potatoes to drain, pulse in a food processor 1 or 2 medium onions (to taste I think you need 2), put them in a fine sieve and also let them drain over a bowl until the potatoes are finished - 30 or so minutes (again with these onions this year using a food processor far less wet).

After the shredded potatoes have sat and drained what happens is that all the potato starch has sunk to the bottom of the bowl on top of which is brackish water - which you want to dispose of - but keep the potato starch sediment (OK so I used Kennebec Potatoes and they were far less starchy then previous potatoes, so I just added a few tablespoons of flour to supplement the starch that wasn't there this time).

Once you have disposed of the water, put the shredded, now dry potatoes (feel free to wring them one more time with your hands just to make sure you've gotten out every last drop!) into a bowl add the potato starch sediment, add 2 slight beaten large eggs and the onions (discarding the watery onion water) and stir. Here is where you would add a tablespoon or so of flour if you thin they need further binding.

Fold in 2-4 T of your choice of fresh herb Sage is my favorite, but Rosemary, Thyme or Savory are all good. Add 1-2 teaspoons more of kosher salt (more or less to taste) and generously grate with black pepper and add an optional pinch of cayenne.

A cast iron skillet is best for frying, use at least an 1" of canola or organic peanut oil over medium high heat, get the oil good and hot (but not smoking) and using a generous Tablespoon of batter place in the oil cook for 2-3 minutes until the edges start to brown then flip and cook the other side for the same amount of time. Dry on a towel and serve immediately.

I always like to make one in advance to test the oil and then taste it so I know if I have seasoned it right, I like them to have an almost salty french fry quality. You may not, but the only way to know is to make one and see what you think, always er on the side of less salt then more.

You can keep them warm in the oven but they will lose their crispiness.

Smear them with cream cheese or sour cream and have a platter of wild caught smoked salmon or smoked whitefish salad, from Russ and Daughters for your guests to add as they see fit along with a big bowl of homemade apple sauce - try using Pippin Apples for your sauce and sweeten it with maple syrup!

It's best to recruit help with Latka parties because you really need to keep making batches of Laktes until all the batter is done and serving them fresh from the frying pan, oven warmed ones just aren't the same.

* My thing is commercial non organic Peanut oil is that peanuts are grown in rotation with cotton in this country, cotton is the more heavily soak in pesticides of any crop. Peanuts have an amazing ability to seep these poisons out of the soil. You do the math, organic peanut oil which up until recently has been incredibly hard to find is now available in most health food grocery stores.

1 comment:

Chaya said...

Thanks for the great tips Mark. I think I'll do some grocery shopping today and try this recipe now that my fridge is working!

There was an error in this gadget
Petitions by|Start a Petition