Crispy Yukon Gold Latkes {Potato Pancakes}

CATEGORIES: Hanukkah, Potatoes, Small Bites

I really wanted to name this post, “When Mormons Make Latkes” but I figured if we offend people when we put glitter on the lawn, talk about long lines at the grocery store, or use food coloring, then silly religious references are certain to get lost in translation for someone somewhere in the world.  But I still like it 🙂  So, every year around this time I have written on my blog calendar “something Hanukkah-ish”  and every year December comes and goes without anything “Hanukkah-ish” ever making an appearance.  This is due in part to the fact that I always have about 47 more Christmas related posts than I actually have time for (as you can see by the obsessive posting over the last week!), and I obviously default to the things I’m celebrating/eating/crafting at home with my own family.  But the other reason is that I never could really figure out what to make, seeing as I’m not an expert in Jewish cuisine and I didn’t want to look like an idiot.  Basically.  So I was so happy to get connected with a new blogging friend recently; Tori from The Shiksa in the Kitchen. Tori is a convert to Judaism and I loved reading her story; especially how her journey of faith is so intertwined with a love of the history and culture of Jewish cuisine.

By taking a journey into the heart of Jewish cuisine, I uncovered something hidden deep inside of me. I now understand that I’ve always had a Jewish spirit. I am drawn to many of the traditional aspects of Judaism — the holidays, the observance of Shabbat, the empowerment of prayer. It’s extremely comforting to know that I’ve joined a larger family and community. By becoming Jewish, I’ve acknowledged my responsibility to others, and I’ve dedicated myself to learning and growing within the faith.  -Tori Avey

photo via theshiksa.com

Although our religions may have some major doctrinal differences, at the core, I think all people of faith are much more alike than we are different.  We are all bound together by a love of and faith in our Creator.  I feel a commonality to those of any faith who seek Him, and I respect the commitment others have to God in whatever way they choose to worship.  I think it’s especially wonderful when the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays overlap and we all celebrate the beauty of our faiths at the same time.  It’s an amazing thing when you think about it!   So to all of our  Jewish friends out in the blogosphere, we wish you a very happy Hanukkah!

I asked Tori for some ideas and told her I’ve always wanted to make latkes, so I was thrilled when she sent me this recipe.  These are basic latkes, made with few ingredients and they’re little bites of heaven.  (These don’t require any flour or matzo, so they’re gluten free too!)  Latkes are basically just potato pancakes, so although we’re making these in honor of Hanukkah, they would be fantastic for breakfast (think hashbrowns!) or an appetizer.  I think what makes a good latke (you know, since I’m such an expert now) are the little tricks and tips, so pay attention to those.  You’ll love these!

Start by peeling and shredding your potatoes.  It’s important to use a fine hole cheese grater, or the fine hole attachment on your food processor to get nice thin shreds that can cook quickly.

Place the potatoes immediately in a bowl of cold water and then shred your onion with the same fine-hole grater.  I grated my potatoes by hand and found that it wasn’t quite strong enough for my onion and was just basically juicing it, so I just pulsed it in my food processor instead.  I knew I needed it super fine for the quick fry so I went ahead and processed it really well.

Drain your potato shreds and place both the potatoes and the onions in a tea towel or a few layers of cheese cloth.  One of the tricks to good, tender latkes is to remove as much moisture as you can.  So just squeeze the heck out of that towel; you’ll be surprised at how much liquid comes out.

After the moisture is squeezed out, place the potato and onion mixture back in your bowl and add the beaten eggs and salt and pepper.  Tori’s recipe calls for white pepper but I was out so that’s why you see black flecks in there 🙂

These are bite-size latkes so you just need a rounded tablespoon of potato mixture.  to get nice even amounts, I just used my cookie scoop.

You’ll want to grab each little ball and squeeze it again in your hand to let any extra moisture drip off again.  Then just shape into a little disk and place in a pan of hot oil.  You only need about 1/8 inch of oil, so this isn’t a huge deep frying adventure (if you’re the kind of person that hesitant to embark upon huge deep frying adventures).

Keeping the oil at the right temperature is another important step.  If it’s too hot, the outsides will cook up and get overdone while the insides aren’t cooked.  And if it’s not hot enough, the latkes will just absorb the oil and come out heavy and greasy.  I made a couple of both of those mistakes before I figured out where I needed the oil.  You might want to test just one at a time until you get it perfect.  You need it just right so they cook up nice and crispy and golden brown on the outside and cooked and creamy on the inside.

After cooking for a few minutes on each side, place them on a cooling rack with some paper towels underneath.

 

You can add extra salt at this point.  I sprinkled mine with coarse kosher salt and they were perfect!

Crispy and crunchy on the outside and warm and tender on the inside.  I love how the onion is so fine that you’re not biting into chunks of it, the flavors just melt into each other.  Serve them the traditional way for Hanukkah with apple sauce and/or sour cream or if you don’t celebrate Hanukkah, you could treat them more like a hashbrown and pair them with scrambled eggs and dipped in ketchup or salsa.  Or eat them like my three year old did dipped in ranch dressing.  We’re talking fried potatoes here people, can’t go wrong.

So who makes latkes?  How do you like yours?  I’ve seen recipes for apple-cheddar ones that I’m dying to try.  I think that might be my new Hanukkah blogging tradition; a different latke every year!

 

 

44 comments

  1. We love latkes at our house, but they are seriously a lot of work. What about using shredded frozen hashbrowns?? Would that work? Last time I shredded the potatoes myself, and I was so over it by the time they were done that I just couldn’t enjoy them 🙁

  2. My mum makes these all the time, except we call them ‘mock fish’ as they are usually served on Good Friday.

    They are really great with a bit of lemon zest before you cook them or if you forget, a slight drizzle of lemon juice after they are cooked… Gives them a lovely flavour. Also, thyme in them is delicious 🙂

    Oh! And they are great served with aioli!

  3. As a Jewish woman with a ton of Mormon friends, I agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY with your comment that people of faith are much more alike than we are different. I utterly adore my Mormon friends because they share the same solid values I do with regards to family, hard work, compassion for others, caring about the world around them, maintaining a sense of humor and having a true reverence for child raising. I’m so blessed to have them in my life.

    Love it that you included a recipe for latkes on your blog. Came to you via the NYT article. 🙂

    1. Yep! Canola and peanut oil are both good oils for frying because they have very high smoke points. Peanut is generally preferred because sometimes, canola oil can make food taste fishy when it reaches very high temperatures, but you should be fine on this recipe. 🙂

  4. I don’t usually comment, but I had to this time! I randomly clicked on your blog yesterday because I was in a dinner funk. This recipe made our night! I didn’t have yukon potatoes and just used regular Idaho ones, but it still was amazing. The boys loved squeezing the extra liquid out and loved eating them even more. We served them with scrambled eggs and called it a night. My 4 yr old has already requested them again! And who am I to say no??

  5. So I came on here to look for some ideas for dinner for this weekend, and came across this. We actually made latkes last night in a small celebration for Hanukah. My 5 year old son has been really interested in the whole celebration after learning about it at school, so we learned about it more last night as a family, which included some of the yummy food. We are LDS, so it was fun to learn about something new, but also a great teaching moment to talk more about Christ and why we celebrate Christmas. Your latkes look way better than mine! But you are right, how can you go wrong with fried potatoes? My kids actually loved eating them with apple sauce and sour cream. We will try your cooking tips next time we make these.

  6. My love of latkes reaches all the way back to elementary school when Dan Laudabaum’s mom would come in the week before Hannukah and make latkes for the class. They were so good! As an adult, to the bewilderment of my hubby, I began experimenting with different recipes using leftover mashed potatoes. Not many turned out very well; overdone or undercooked, you name it, it happened to my latkes. I’m anxious to try your recipe and to find, at long last, success!!

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