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The Secret to Perfect Latkes

The Caviar + Latkes from RH Guesthouse

There are so many reasons to look forward to Hanukkah, but a crowd favorite is an excuse to sit around and eat latkes. Although, anyone who has tried to make a latke knows that it ain’t that easy. This labor of love gives you a whole new respect for what it takes to get a latke right. These are your tips from the experts (aka Mom) this holiday.

How to Make Crispy Latkes

How to make crispy latkes comes down to your type of potatoes, removing extra moisture, and making tracks as you have to be as quick as lightning when you make latkes. These are the essential tips for how to make crispy latkes this holiday season.

  1. Select the Right Potatoes: How to make crispy latkes starts with potatoes like Russets. They have a higher starch content, which helps create a crispy exterior.
  2. Remove Excess Moisture: After grating the potatoes and onions, place them in a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Excess moisture can lead to soggy latkes.
  3. Quick Assembly: Mix the grated potatoes and onions with the other ingredients quickly. The longer the mixture sits, the more moisture is released.
  4. Use Binder Ingredients: Add ingredients that help bind the mixture and contribute to crispiness, such as eggs and a small amount of flour or a matzo meal.
  5. High Heat: Use a hot oil for frying. This helps to crisp up the exterior quickly, sealing the outside and preventing excessive oil absorption.
  6. Shallow Frying: Use enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, but not too much. Shallow frying helps create a crisp crust without making the latkes greasy.
  7. Evenly-Shaped Latkes: Form uniform-sized latkes to ensure even cooking. This helps them cook at the same rate, achieving a consistent crispiness.
  8. Don’t Overcrowd the Pan: Fry the latkes in batches, leaving enough space between them. Overcrowding the pan can lower the oil temperature and result in soggy latkes.
  9. Drain Excess Oil: Place the cooked latkes on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil.
  10. Serve immediately: Latkes are best enjoyed right after frying when they are at their crispiest. If you need to make them ahead of time, you can reheat them in the oven before serving.

Now It’s Time to Make the Latkes

Latkes are delicious potato pancakes that are often enjoyed during Hanukkah, but they’re great any time of the year. This is your go-to recipe for how to make crispy latkes; just make sure you have enough for the crowd.

Perfectly Crisp Latkes Recipe

Ingredients

4 large potatoes (Russet or Yukon Gold)
1 large yellow onion
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying*

Note: Olive oil doesn’t work for latkes because you need an oil that will heat to a higher temperature. This is one of the keys for how to make crispy latkes.

Directions

The first step in how to make crispy latkes is to prepare the potatoes. Peel and grate the potatoes in a food processor. Of course, you can grate potatoes by hand, but there’s no reason to be a hero. Anyone who has ever made latkes knows that they go like hotcakes, so you have to make a lot for the crowd. A food processor will make the process much less labor-intensive and quicker as well. You don’t want your potatoes to get brown. As you grate the potatoes, place them in a bowl of cold water until all potatoes are grated. Next, drain and place the grated potatoes in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out excess moisture.

Next, grate the onion in the food processor. No need to wash the food processor as it’s all going in the same place. Once your onion is grated, add it to a large bowl, where you’ll combine all the other ingredients. Add the grated potatoes, beaten eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, and black pepper. Mix well until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.

It’s Time to Fry the Potatoes

Pour enough vegetable oil into a large skillet to cover the bottom with about 1/4 inch of oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. To test if the oil is ready, drop a small piece of potato into the oil; it should sizzle and bubble.

Take about 1/4 cup of the potato mixture in your hands and shape it into a flat pancake. Make sure each latke is well compacted to ensure it holds together during frying. Carefully place the formed latkes into the hot oil, being sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fry until the edges are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, and then flip to cook the other side. The first latkes may be trial and error. Adjust the seasoning and thickness of the latkes to your preference for the perfect crispy texture.

Once both sides are golden brown and crispy, use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer the latkes to a plate lined with paper towels. This helps absorb any excess oil. Serve the latkes immediately while they are hot and crispy. Latkes are traditionally served with applesauce and sour cream, but you can also get creative with toppings like smoked salmon, chives, or Greek yogurt. Russ & Daughters has some of the best smoked salmon and they ship nationwide.

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