My grandparents always celebrated their birthdays during Hanukkah. All of the aunts would gather in Grandma’s kitchen — no counters!only a small table — and proceeded to grate mounds of potatoes — and no doubt a few fingernails — by hand. It is only as an adult with a food processor do I appreciate their herculean efforts! It is still a messy process but worth the trouble as I never met a guest who didn’t like a latke.
5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, with skin left on
4 eggs, gently whisked
1 medium onion, finely grated
1 tablespoon matzo meal or all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Canola oil for frying
Because the scent of the potatoes frying permeates your clothes, your body, and your home, it is best to prepare the latkes in advance and freeze them. Wear your an old sweatsuit or anything washable because even your underwear will smell like latkes!
Put the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 8-10 minutes. Immediately drain the water from the pot and add cold water. Drain again and cover with ice water. Let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the water and pat dry.
Using a food processor (or a hand grater using the largest holes), use a medium shredding disk to grate the potatoes. Scoop the grated potatoes into a bowl and mix with the eggs, onion, matzo meal or flour, lemon juice, baking powder, salt and pepper. In two batches, add the mixture to the food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Pulse 5-8 times. The mixture should resemble relish, not mush.
Add oil to a large frying pan, up to about halfway up the pan. Heat. Drop the batter by teaspoons or a small ice cream scoop into the hot oil. Flatten each one with a meta spatula. Give each latke plenty of room, making 6-8 at a time. Brown and turn, to brown the other side. Remove the latkes from the oil using a slotted spoon or spatula and drain on paper towels.
Once the latkes have cooled, place them in a plastic freezer container, separating each layer with waxed paper, and freeze.
Throw the clothes you wore to make the latkes in the laundry, and take a long hot shower,washing your hair.
When you are ready to serve them, heat the oven to 425-450F. Place the latkes on cookie sheets and bake in the hot oven for about 10 minutes to re-crisp them. Serve with homemade apple sauce or sour cream.
Makes about 30 latkes.
Ellen Gutman Chenaux
Bed and Breakfast Foodie