Grandma Rose’s Latkes

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes about

    Twenty

    2 in 5 cm Latkes

Appears in

Roots

By Diane Morgan

Published 2012

  • About

This is my maternal grandmother’s recipe for latkes, or potato pancakes, which I enjoyed every Hanukkah when I was growing up. Fried in a very hot frying pan, they are crisp and thin, with wavy shreds of delicately browned potato at the edges. It is hard to resist breaking off the crunchy edge pieces as you move the pancakes from the oil to the wire rack. I consider those fabulous shards a treat for the cook (me!), though I also remember my grandmother sharing generously with me.

Ingredients

  • 3 lb/1.4 kg. russet or other floury potatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher or fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Canola or other neutral oil for frying
  • 1 cup/240 ml. sour cream
  • 1 cup/240 ml. applesauce

Method

  1. Have a colander and a large bowl of cold water ready. Peel the potatoes and rinse under cold water. Using the coarse holes on a box grater or a food processor fitted with the coarse shredding grating disk, coarsely grate the potatoes. Place the grated potatoes in the cold water for 1 minute and then drain in the colander. Rinse the potatoes under cold water once or twice until the water runs clear. This removes the starch and keeps the potatoes from turning reddish. Use your hands or the back of a broad spoon to press out as much liquid as possible. Dry the bowl and transfer the potatoes to the bowl.
  2. Using the box grater or the food processor, coarsely grate the onion. Add the onion to the potatoes and mix to combine. Add the egg, flour, baking powder, salt, and a few grinds of pepper and mix to combine. (The potatoes can be set aside at room temperature for up to 1 hour before continuing.)
  3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 250°F/120°C/gas ½. Have ready a large wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Pour the oil to a depth of ½ in/12 mm. into one or two large, heavy frying pans, preferably cast iron, and heat over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers but is not smoking. Scoop up about ¼ cup/60 ml. of the potato mixture and gently drop it into the pan. Use a spatula to flatten it slightly, forming a pancake. Form as many additional pancakes as will comfortably fit in the pan without crowding. Fry on one side until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn and brown the other side, about 3 minutes longer. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the latkes to the wire rack and keep warm in the oven. Continue frying in batches until all of the potato mixture is used up, adding more oil and adjusting the heat as needed. (The latkes can be made up to this point 1 day ahead if refrigerating or 2 weeks ahead if freezing. Let cool, layer between sheets of waxed paper in a covered container, and refrigerate or freeze. Arrange the latkes, straight from the refrigerator or freezer, in a single layer on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Reheat in a preheated 350°F/180°C/gas 4 oven until hot and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.)
  5. Serve immediately or keep warm in the oven for up to 10 minutes. Pass bowls of sour cream and applesauce at the table.