Nach Waxman’s Potato Latkes

These crispy pancakes are traditional throughout northern and eastern Europe. This version—from our friend Nach Waxman, owner of New York’s special cookbook store, Kitchen Arts & Letters—is traditional for Chanukah, but it’s good all year round.

Ingredients

  • 8 Idaho potatoes (8 ounces each), scrubbed and patted dry
  • 2 onions
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
  • Corn oil
  • 2 tablespoons rendered chicken fat (optional)

Method

  1. Using a hand grater or a food processor, coarsely grate the (unpeeled) potatoes and place them in a glass or ceramic bowl. Let them sit for 15 to 20 minutes. The potatoes will release liquid and turn red.
  2. Grate the onions into another bowl, and set them aside.
  3. Transfer the potatoes to a large colander, and let them drain for 10 minutes. Then spray them hard with water for 2 to 3 minutes, working the shreds with your fingers. The reddish starch will wash out and the potatoes will be white. Squeeze them to remove as much water as possible, and transfer them to a clean mixing bowl.
  4. Using a fork, stir the onions into the potatoes. Then add the eggs, flour, baking powder, and pepper, and mix thoroughly.
  5. Heat ⅛ inch of corn oil and chicken fat in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Using a slotted spoon, drop level spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil. Sauté them until golden brown on both sides, pressing them lightly with the spatula when you turn them, 1½ to 2 minutes per side. As they are cooked, drain the pancakes on brown paper bags and keep them warm. Add more oil to the skillet as needed for additional batches. Serve the pancakes immediately, piping hot.