This is my mother’s potato latke recipe. I have already published it in a previous cookbook but since everyone is always asking for the recipe for these delicious latkes, I thought I’d offer it here as well.
A friend of mine who is a caterer said my mother’s recipe saved her when she needed to prepare latkes for hundreds of people because my mother and I figured out how to avoid having to fry them at the last minute. My friend simply fried them a few days before the party and froze them. I often prepare them ahead too. I refrigerate or freeze the fried latkes on a cookie sheet. Once they are frozen, I put them in a freezer bag. I partially thaw frozen ones, and reheat them in a preheated 450°F oven for about 5 minutes. It may seem surprising, but I like them even better this way. To me it seems they come out crisper. But maybe I like them more because with make-ahead latkes, I’m able to enjoy the party!
Potato latkes have become very popular with chefs of fancy restaurants. They crown them with caviar or smoked salmon for appetizers, or they serve main course foods like veal or fish on top of a potato pancake. I like the creative appetizers but when a latke is under a substantial piece of meat coated in a sauce, it often turns out soggy and I wish it were served on the side, the old-fashioned way.
For Hanukkah, most cooks follow tradition and serve potato latkes with bowls of sour cream, sugar, and applesauce. Of course, fresh homemade Old-Fashioned Applesauce or Chunky French Applesauce is the best, or try a new variation made with apples and apricots.
Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings
2½ pounds potatoes (about 8 large) or baking, boiling, or Yukon Gold
2 medium onions
2 large eggs
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
About ¾ cup vegetable oil (for frying)
1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Line a tray with paper towels for draining latkes and have a baking sheet ready for keeping latkes warm.
2. Peel and grate potatoes and onions on the large holes of a grater or with a food processor fitted with a coarse grating disk, alternating onion and potato. Transfer grated onion and potato to a colander. Squeeze mixture by handfuls to remove as much liquid as possible.
3. Put potato-onion mixture in a bowl. Add egg, salt, pepper, and flour and mix well.
4. Heat ½ cup oil in a deep, large, heavy skillet. For each latke, drop about 2 tablespoons of potato mixture into pan. Flatten with back of a spoon so each pancake is 2½ to 3 inches in diameter. Do not crowd them in pan. Fry over medium heat 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until crisp and golden brown. Turn carefully with 2 slotted spatulas so oil doesn’t splatter. Transfer to paper towels. Stir batter before frying each new batch. Add more oil to the pan as necessary, and heat it before adding more latkes. After frying about half the batter, put latkes on baking sheet and keep warm in oven.
5. Pat tops of latkes with paper towels before serving. Serve hot or warm.