This recipes comes from The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen: A Fresh Take on Tradition by Amelia Saltsman (Sterling Epicure), a cooking teacher and cookbook author. Try making the recipe at home and let us know what you think!
Photograph by Staci Valentine
Best Potato Latkes
Makes 24 latkes, 6 servings
Pareve or dairy
These latkes are thin, crisp, and pan-fried, not deep-fried. My family’s traditional recipe is inspired by Sara Kasdan’s, from her hilarious 1956 cookbook Love and Knishes, which my mother received as a gift nearly sixty years ago. You need a starchy potato for good latkes; the starch helps bind the pancake together. Sierra Gold (a cross between a Yukon Gold and a russet), German Butterball, Kennebec, and King Edward are all wonderful here. This recipe is easily doubled or tripled. See The Art of Perfect Latkes for cooking tips.
2 pounds (900 g) starchy potatoes, peeled
1 small onion
2 heaping tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour or potato starch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
Freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Mild oil with a medium-high smoke point, such as grapeseed, sunflower, or avocado, for pan-frying
Coarse finishing salt, such as Maldon sea salt
Applesauce and/or sour cream
Using the large holes of a box grater or a food processor fitted with the grating disk, grate the potatoes. You should have about 5 cups (730 grams). Place the potatoes in a sieve to drain. Grate the onion on the large holes of the box grater or fit the processor with the metal S blade and grate. It should look like pulp; mince or discard any large onion pieces.
In a large bowl, stir together potatoes, onion, flour, salt, baking powder, and a few grinds of pepper. Stir in eggs.
Line 2 or 3 sheet pans with paper towels. Place the prepared pans, the latke batter, a large spoon, and a spatula near the stove. Heat 1 or 2 large skillets over medium heat. Generously film the skillet(s) with oil (not more than ¼ inch/6 mm deep). When the oil is shimmering and a tiny bit of batter sizzles on contact, start spooning in the latke batter, making sure to add both solids and liquid. Using the back of the spoon, flatten each spoonful into a circle 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) in diameter. Do not crowd the latkes in the pan. You’ll get 4 or 5 latkes in a 12-inch (30.5-cm) skillet.
Cook the latkes, flipping them once, until golden on both sides, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer the latkes to a prepared baking sheet. Cook the remaining batter in the same way, stirring the batter before adding more to the pan and adding oil as needed at the edge of the pan.
Arrange the latkes on a warmed platter, sprinkle with finishing salt, and serve with applesauce or sour cream.
CRISP PARSNIP LATKES VARIATION: Substitute 2 pounds (900 g) juicy-looking medium to large parsnips for the potatoes and use white pepper in place of black pepper. The grated parsnips won’t release liquid that requires draining, but they will discolor slightly after they are peeled.
Reprinted with permission from The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen by Amelia Saltsman (Sterling Epicure).