Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
Hanukkah begins tonight and the shirt I wore 11 days ago to Ilene and Judi’s Latke Party still smells of oil and onion. My good friends have an annual potato latke party and invite everyone they know. They start frying the traditional Hanukkah delicacy at 6:00 and don’t stop until 10:00 or the potatoes run out.
Ilene bases her recipe on one that has been handed down from her grandmother and mother. I say, “bases” as she takes liberties. Making latkes is like most things you do in the kitchen, it’s a matter of taste and your own flare. That’s why the recipe following the video is my own variation, not Ilene’s grandmother’s recipe. And yes, my camera also smells like oil and onion.
After grating the potatoes squeeze and re-squeeze to get as much of the liquid out as possible. Grate the onion into the potato and squeeze again. Can’t be too dry.
Blend the spices, matzo meal and eggs together until throughly mixed. Pour into the grated potato and onion and mix with you hands. If the mixture is too damp, you can add additional matzo meal or flour. The batter should be moist not wet. One recipe I saw used 1/2 cup of matzo meal. They weren’t pancakes, they were potato croquettes.
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet on medium-high heat. Form small patties and carefully place them into the skillet pressing them down with your spactula. If your patties are too thick the inside may still be raw when the outside is the perfect golden brown. I say golden brown as I don’t know what to call something that is the brown one shade darker than golden but below the one that says, “burnt.” This burning effect also can occur if your oil is too hot. I always like to cook one pancake up to test the heat of the oil and the seasoning of the potato. It’s easy to adjust the potato mixture. Approximate cook time would be 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove latkes from skillet and drain on paper towels.
Although I’ve seen people eat left over potato pancakes right out of the refrigerator they are best right off the paper towel, hot and crisp. I generally just sprinkle with a little salt. Traditionally they are served with apple sauce and or sour cream.