It doesn’t matter if you celebrate Hanukkah; latkes are universal crowd pleasers. After all, what is there not to like about fried nests of potatoes? The answer is nothing at all. Especially when you top them with apple sauce. Or add in some caviar. There’s something for everyone. This is the best latke recipe, to achieve that perfect, crispy latke, just like your Bubby.
The History of the Latke
The latke first came on the scene around the 14th century, and was a dish made in the Jewish culture to celebrate Hanukkah. However, unlike the modern-day latkes that are made with shredded potatoes, the original were fried ricotta. It’s not what’s fried though that is the significance of a latke. Instead, it’s about the oil. Legend has it that a fellow, Juddah Maccabbe, and his followers overthrew the Syrian Greek King and retook the Second Temple of Jerusalem. In the purification of the temple, they only had enough oil to light the flame for a day. However, by a miracle, the flame stayed lit for 8 days. And that friends, is the nutshell of why latkes, which are fried in oil, are the food to celebrate Hanukkah.
To Make the Perfect Latke is an Art
Anyone who has tried to make hash browns knows that it’s easy to get yourself a gluey, grey potato oily mess. Before you know it, your taters lose their beautiful white color, as you get through the task of shredding all your potatoes. The issue is oxidation of the potatoes, and then later moisture.
Here are your top tips for the best latke recipe. Above all, these require elbow grease, and there’s not a lot of ways around it. However, there’s nothing better than a crisp and light latke when you can get it right. We would say that you can even use this best latke recipe, to rival Russ & Daughters rendition. Because there’s nothing like homemade. This is one time when the extra effort is worth it.
- For the best latke recipe, start out with high starch potatoes. Russets are tops; you don’t need to go fancy for latkes.
- Use your food processor to grate the potatoes. This creates even potatoes so you can get that perfect brown crisp.
- As soon as you grate the potatoes, place them in cold, salted water. Squeeze in lemon. This will keep the potatoes that nice white color.
- Once you are done grating all your potatoes, drain them from the cold water. Immediately ring all the moisture out of the potatoes in a cheese cloth. This is where that elbow grease come into play. It’s an arm workout to get all the water out.
- The thinner the latkes the better. When you make latkes too thick, it’s harder to cook through.
- Make sure your oil is hot enough. Do not use olive oil, but rather sunflower or other oil with a high heat point.
- Salt. Salt your latkes right before you fry them and don’t be shy with the amount.
The best latke recipe is work. Follow these tips though, and you’l have yourself crispy golden latkes that will be the hit of the Hanukkah holiday.
4 large russet potatoes, shredded
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 large sweet yellow onion, very finely chopped
1/4 cup Matzo meal
Maldon sea salt
Canola or sunflower oil for frying
High quality black caviar
Shred your potatoes in your food processor. Follow our best latke recipe tips above to prevent oxidation (aka turning grey and brown). To do this, place them in cold, salted water with lemon juice. When you’re ready to assemble, drain all the moisture out of the potatoes through a cheese cloth.
In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, matzo meal and finely chopped white onion. The white onion is chopped finely enough when they are practically invisible in the potato mixture. Generously add in the salt, and if to taste, some pepper.
Let’s Get Frying
In a large skillet over medium high, heat 2 inches of oil until a shred of potato sizzles upon contact. Form thin (either small or large, but thin) round latkes by hand, and drop them immediately into the oil. Fry just until golden brown, then turn. The time will depend on how big your latkes are. Place cooked latkes on a baking sheet lined with parchment and foil. Place in a warmed oven until all the latkes are fried. Latkes are best right out of the pan, but can be re-heated in the oven at 300 for about 5 minutes.
When ready to serve, top traditionally with applesauce and sour cream. Otherwise, make an assortment with caviar, chive, sour cream, smoked salmon and roe. This will be the best latke recipe, that you’ll break out year after year.