Sunday, December 14, 2008

Latkes





My son, Henry, wanted me to make latkes. More, I believe, as a vehicle for sour cream and applesauce than anything else. But I take my inspiration where I can get it.

So I improvised a recipe this morning and it turned out pretty well.

Now, here's my take on recipes; they're more or less useless because of the variables involved--cook, type of oven/burner, type of pan, how high is the heat, ingredient variables, etc, etc... So when I do post recipes, I usually won't give quantities or exact temperatures, because....well...I don't measure and I pretty much just wing it when I do stuff like this.

That being said, here's how I did this morning's pre-Hanukkah latke fest:

You must use russet potatoes (as opposed to redskin or yukon gold) for latkes, because they are higher in starch content and lower in moisture. This allows the shredded potatoes to stick together. I used one sweet onion, about eight medium-sized russet potatoes, two eggs, about a half a cup of flour, plus salt and pepper.

I grated the onion and potatoes on the shredder attachment on my Cuisinart. After you shred, you'll need to put the potatoes/onion mix into a strainer or colander and squeeze out some of the moisture. Then add the other ingredients and mix. Mix it by hand--don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Also, fingers give you a more thorough mix without breaking up the shredded potatoes. Oh, and season it well with salt and pepper. Potatoes take a lot of salt.

I used a heavy french steel sautee pan over medium high heat, which, on the 22K BTU burner of my Bluestar range, is pretty hot. I also pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees and set a cooling rack over a baking sheet in the oven. Once the latkes are browned well on both sides, I transfer them into the oven to ensure the inside is fully cooked and to keep warm while I'm cooking the rest of them.

Make sure your oil (I used olive and vegetable oil) is hot by tossing a bit of potato into it. It should bubble immediately and brown within 30 seconds or so. Oh, and this is a pan-fry, not a sautee, so you should have about a half-inch depth of oil on the bottom of the pan. If you wanted to really be authentic, you could fry your latkes in schmaltz. But most people don't have that just hanging around the house.

Once your oil is ready, form the mix into a patty--give it another squeeze to get out any excess moisture--and then plop it down into the oil. Once it's in the pan, smash it down a bit with your fingers or a spatula to spread it out into a nice even patty. Depending on the size of your pan, you should only do two or three at one time. Don't overcrowd your pan--this will lower the temp too much and you'll end up steaming rather than frying and you won't get that nice golden crust. I'm using a 14" frying pan and you can see in the picture above that I'm only doing three latkes at a time.

So...that's it, really. Fry'em up. Once they're done, serve them with applesauce and sour cream.

Happy Hanukkah!

2 comments:

Nancy Heller said...

Chef - the next time you make this - try using the grating wheel of your Cuisinart instead of the shredding wheel. You'll get an intensely creamy inside to your Latke. It's akin to using the smallest hole on the box grater - and I have to admit that my mother was right that it's the only way to get the right texture in the latke.

You can see us demo this technique here: http://funplayingwithfood.blogspot.com/2007/12/playing-with-potato-latkes.html.

E L said...

thanks, nancy. i checked out your very descriptive blog entry and am interested in that method. i'll try it next time i make latkes. first i'll have to check and make sure i've got that blade for the food processor.

nice blog! thanks again.