This week is all about latkes. Lots of them. In addition to supplying three classroom holiday parties, I will be hosting back-to-back Hanukkah dinners. And latkes are always the main attraction. This time of year, my kitchen becomes richly and fragrantly layered in grease, comfort, and tradition.
Making mountains of latkes need not be arduous, thanks to two modern-day conveniences. A food processor will grate the potatoes, onion and zucchini in less than a minute. And a freezer will keep the cooked latkes for weeks, even months (though you might have to bury them slyly to prevent pilfering).
A few tips…only russet potatoes contain the necessary starch to hold the latkes together. I like to add zucchini for moisture (and a few extra vitamins), but purists can use two extra potatoes in their place. A cast-iron skillet will ensure that the latkes don’t burn. The size of the latkes is up to you, but I have found that for the best browning and crisp-tender texture, the perfect diameter is about 2-1/2 inches.
Once you have mastered making latkes, you might find yourself craving them long past the holidays, so I suggest making a few extra batches to freeze. Easy to reheat in the toaster oven, these latkes will infuse your home with the mouth-watering perfume of holiday ritual, sprinkled generously with delicious hope for 2010.
Makes approximately 24-36 each
6 Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 onion, peeled, cut into quarters
2 zucchini, cut into large chunks
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup matzah meal (potato starch or garbanzo flour are good subs for gluten-free)
Grapeseed oil for frying
1. Grate the potatoes, onion and zucchini in a food processor. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible and place in a large bowl.
2. In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, salt and pepper. Add to the potato mixture and combine well. Toss with the matzah meal.
3. In a large cast-iron or heavy skillet, heat the oil over a high flame. When the oil sizzles, form pancakes, one at a time, into flat 2-1/2 inch-wide disks. Drop them carefully into the oil. When the edges are crisp and brown, flip them over and continue cooking until golden.
4. Remove the pancakes as they are done to drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Serve warm with apple sauce, sour cream or just plain.
For crispier latkes, eliminate 2 eggs and flatten latkes with a spatula while cooking. Latkes can be cooled, frozen, and kept in an airtight container for up to a month.
Try another traditional holiday recipe: Dana’s Fluffy Matzah Balls.
Photo credit: Quick and Kosher