You feel like frying something?
Potatoes: “Well… fry me up and call me a Latke!”
These potato latkes are traditional in eastern European Jewish households. Light, delicate and well seasoned, they are beautifully textured, as the grated potatoes and onions fry up with lacy, golden brown, crisp edges that fan outwards. Yet when you bite into one, you feel the soft interior. That, my friends, is pure latke perfection!
Our new found love for latkes is real, so we have moved them from December and Hanukkah time to the “anytime of the year” rotation. I know I am already seeing some smiles for reminding you to fry up your favorite holiday snacky right NOOOOWWW!!
What are Latkes?
Latkes are nothing but simple little fried grated potato pancakes. You might associate them with Hanukkah, but they have deeper origins. Potato pancakes started as peasant food in eastern European countries like Germany, Russia, Austria and Poland where potatoes were cheap and plentiful.
Sure enough, they became a staple and come in many innovative cooking forms. These potato latkes are just one of them. They are a popular festival food during Hanukkah in eastern Europe. Hanukkah refers to the Jewish festival of lights, depicting a lamp that was supposed to have only enough oil to last one night, but instead lasted for eight. This holiday celebrates the miracle of the oil, so fried foods are often featured. No Hanukkah table is complete without a heaping plate of latkes.
The word latke itself is derived from the East Slavic word oladka, meaning small pancake. The basic potato latke has simple ingredients and, once fried, can be enjoyed with a variety of toppings. The most popular are applesauce, most common in Germany, and sour cream, loved by Eastern Europeans and Russians. You can make them any day of the week, as they have just a few things that are always in your house.
- Potatoes – Use russet potatoes, as they are high in starch and perfect for frying crispier latkes. Starchier potatoes = crispier latkes.
- Onion – Spanish or white onion. Avoid red onion, as it might overpower the delicate fried potatoes.
- Eggs – One of the binders.
- Flour – We are using flour, which works beautifully. Matzo meal and cornstarch can be used in its place.
- Salt and pepper – To taste.
- Oil – Canola, or any high smoke point oil, can be used to fry. Once we tried frying them in ghee (clarified butter) and it was yum!!
A few tips
All sounds good and easy?? Not so easy. If you don’t follow a few tips and techniques it can easily turn into a soggy, oily mess. We don’t want that.
Here is what you need:
- The Right Pan: Something that will heat up evenly and can withstand high temperatures.You neither want non stick (not much heat retention or distribution) nor stainless steel woks (can get sticky if you happen to go light on oil)…
Answer: A cast iron skillet. They will give you perfect crisp, nicely golden brown latkes.
- Squeeze out the Liquid: This is the most important.
Water in your grated potatoes = Mushy latkes + oil splatter and a messy kitchen..
Answer: Potatoes and onions, when grated, result in a lot of liquid. After grating the potatoes, place them in a cheese cloth, soft muslin cloth or tea towel. Twist and squeeze out the liquid as much as possible. You can also use paper towels, but they tend to get soggy and fall apart. You can squeeze out the water from the grated onions as well.
- The right cooking temperature: You don’t need to deep fry the latkes. Fill the skillet with oil so that it covers the latkes halfway up. Heat the oil over medium high heat. For crispy latkes, the oil needs to be around 365-375°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, drop a little latke mixture into the oil and look for a happy sizzle. Now your oil is ready for frying. Too soon and the latkes will absorb oil and turn soggy. Too hot, they will burn.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan: Latkes loves space when frying. If need be, use two skillets rather than overcrowding, or fry in batches. Drain them on paper towels, as it helps absorb extra oil and prevent sogginess
- How to keep them crisp?? As with any fried food, latkes are at their best when devouring them straight out of the pan. Crunchy, crispy, hot, delicious!! Half of our latkes are finished like that before going on to the table. But if you are making a big batch ahead of time, you need to think about how to keep that crispness going at the table. There is a brilliant solution…
Preheat the oven to 250°F when you are frying the latkes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or you can use a cooling rack). As the latkes come out of the frying pan, transfer them to the sheet and keep them in the oven until you are ready to eat. This way they keep warm without cooking further.
After all these tips, making them is actually a breeze!
Start by preheating the oven to 250°F. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or use a cooling rack to keep your latkes after frying.
Grate potatoes using the largest hole in your box grater. If you have one, you can use a food processor with a large shredding or grating blade. Transfer the grated potatoes into a bowl full of cold water. Grate your onion.
Drain the water and squeeze the potatoes in a cheese cloth or tea towel to remove as much liquid as possible. Do the same with the onion.
In a large bowl mix grated potatoes and onion with eggs, flour, salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix thoroughly.
Time to make the latkes. Heat up your oil, then use a 1/4 cup measuring cup or a large spoon and scoop the mixture into your hot oil. Press the top of the latke mixture with a spoon to flatten them into 3 inch discs. Let them cook undisturbed till the edges start turning golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Flip gently, using two spatulas so they don’t break apart, and fry for another 4-5 minutes. Drain them on a paper towel and serve, or transfer them to the baking sheet and keep them hot in your preheated oven till ready to eat.
How to serve
A dollop of apple sauce on top! Fruity apple sauce over piping hot latkes is a sweet and savory dream for your taste buds.
OR a dollop of sour cream on top? Some people refuse to eat latkes without their sour cream.
In fact, they are so passionate about their toppings that TeamApplesauce and TeamSourcream exist!
At Gypsyplate we love them both and have some other suggestions too. Yes… some might scoff, but we do love plain tomato ketchup with them. It’s fried potatoes after all.
And we suggest you try getting a little fancy when topping them with a mixture of smoked salmon, dill and cream cheese. Yum.
How about Pastrami and whole grain mustard?… Cream cheese and red pepper jelly, delicious… Some salsa or guac?… Chipotle mayo? Tzatziki? Don’t roll your eyes, they’re even delicious with untraditional toppings!
It is also common to eat latkes at breakfast time. Top them with some poached or fried eggs and avocado. You are looking at a great Sunday brunch.
Instead of grating the potatoes, spiralize them. It’s a great twist on traditional latkes.
Try playing by adding your favorite herbs like chopped chives, mint, basil or parsley. Or try spices like a dash of paprika into the potato mixture.
Grate different vegetables all together, like zucchini or mix and match. It makes life FUN!
Whether you celebrate Hanukkah or not, eating good food is kind of a celebration and happiness! GypsyPlate loves bringing that happiness into your lives from all around the world. We ourselves are having a great time presenting all these tasty things from different cultures and countries!
Fry some potatoes and be happy! And while you’re here, check out my collection of the best Potato Recipes.
And tell us if you are #TeamAppleSauce or # TeamSourCream…
Latkes, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 2 lbs Potatoes
- 1 small white or Spanish onion
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup oil
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 250°F.
- Grate the onion in the largest hold of a box grater. Peel potatoes, grate them and transfer to a large bowl of cold water. Soak the potatoes for 5 minutes and drain them well in a colander.
- Gather the potato and onion in a muslin cloth, kitchen towel or large triple layer of cheese cloth. Wrap the cloth around the food, and twist it tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible.
- Transfer this potato and onion mixture to a bowl. Stir in eggs ,flour, salt and pepper. Mix well.
- Heat oil in a wide skillet over medium high heat. Check the temperature of the oil by adding a small amount of latke mixture to the oil. It will sizzle when the temperature is high enough. Once the oil is ready, fry the letkes in batches. Spoon out 1/4 cup of potato mixture per latke into the skillet and spread it out into 3-inch rounds with the help of a spoon. Repeat until the pan is full but not over crowded. Cook until golden brown, 4-5 minutes per side.
- Drain the latkes on a paper towel for 2 minutes and serve.
- Keep the latkes warm on a wire rack or a parchment paper lined baking sheet in the preheated oven until you finish frying all batch. They can be kept warm like this up to 30 minutes.
- Garnish the latkes with fresh chives and serve it with apple sauce or sour cream.
Latkes are best served right away. But if you are making them ahead of time or eating them as leftovers, reheat in the oven on parchment lined baking sheet at 300°F for 5-10 minutes. Keep a close eyes on latkes when reheating so they do not burn.
In case latkes are not holding together, you can mix more flour into the potato mixture. You can also add another egg if needed, as both acts like binders.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 312Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 14gCholesterol 62mgSodium 88mgCarbohydrates 37gFiber 4gSugar 2gProtein 7g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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