My mother makes the best potato pancakes in the world (this has been
verified by NASA and Condé Nast). Friends still ask for the recipe, so
here's my version. A bow of respect to my mom, as this recipe is 90% hers
- I make slight tweaks to the ingredients and technique, so if you make
these and you find them as delightful as I do, full credit goes to my
mother, who is one o' the greats.
Latkes Ingredients and Tools
A whole mess of paper towels
1 decent-sized blender
1 large mixing bowl
8 good-sized Russet potatoes
1 large onion (your choice on variety)
Matzo meal - you'll need about a cup for each batch
Canola oil (enough to fry this batch, maybe half a cup or so)
First I'll do a brief on the recipe and then the details:
To make the latkes, scrub, peel, and cut up potatoes. Cut up onion into
chunks. Add a little oil, the eggs, the 'taters, and the onion to the
blender and blend on low setting. Once it is blended, pour the mush into
a big bowl, add the matzo meal. Then get your biggest frying pan, add
enough canola oil so that there is about a quarter-inch of oil. Get it
good and hot, then spoon in the mixture. Wait until the sides get brown,
flip 'em over, wait 30-40 seconds, pull 'em out onto paper towels, let
'em cool for as long as you can stand it, then shove 'em in your eating
Ok, now the full thing:
Prep Get out a large mixing bowl that you will use for the final container
of the potato mush. Set it aside.
Get out a large lasagna-style baking dish (for keeping the latkes warm
in the oven). Put in a few layers of paper towels and put it near the
stove, if not on one of the empty burners.
Get out your biggest frying pan. Higher sides are better, because their
will be spatter from the hot oil. Deal with the pain of the burns, the
taste will make up for them. Set the pan on the stove.
Get out the ingredients and a large spoon (larger than a standard tablespoon,
but not huge)
Get out your biggest blender. Plug it in.
Scrub the potatoes. Peel the potatoes, though no need to be overly-clean.
Getting most of the skin off is the idea. Cut potatoes in half, lengthwise,
then half again, lengthwise.
Line up the four long strips and cut them into one-inch chunks or so.
Don't sweat it, it's just to make it easier to put into the top of the
Peel and cut the onion into quarters.
Grab the oil and put about a teaspoon into the blender. Follow it with
the eggs (yolks and whites), and start blending on a low setting.
Add potatoes and onion chunks.
Add salt and pepper (your choice on how much)
Wait until the largest chunk you see is the size of a pea. No need to
liquefy this stuff, just get it goopy.
Take the goopy potato mixture and pour it into the large mixing bowl.
Slowly add one cup of matzo meal. Stir as you add.
When that's done, put about a quarter-cup of canola oil into your frying
pan and get it good and hot.
Make sure that there's about a quarter-inch of oil in the pan - don't
have any exposed bottom surface.
Take your bowl of potato goop and bring it to the stove. When you think
the oil is hot, drop in a tiny bit of potato goop. If it sizzles nice
and fast, the oil is ready.
Take your bigger-than-a-tablespoon spoon and get a healthy amount of potato
goop. Slowly add it into the hot oil, moving your spoon as you go, so
you get an oval-shaped layer of goop cooking. Do that again, maybe do
three the first run. Watch the edges. When they get brown, take your spatula
and flip them. The tops should look decently cooked. Then count to 30
or so, flip them again, make sure they look cooked, then take 'em out
and put 'em on the paper towels.
After they've drained a bit, put 'em on a plate and eat 'em, or put 'em
onto a baking sheet. If you're making this whole batch, when you get 'em
all on the baking sheet, you can pop 'em in the oven and set it to warm,
so that they stay fresh for when you are ready to serve.
Lastly, think of taste - they're great by themselves, but some folks love
them with applesauce or sour cream or whatever. Enjoy!
If you have the patience, cook them one at a time. This will keep the
oil temperature optimally heated. The hotter the oil, the perfecter the
pancake. For a crispier pancake, drain off some of the water from the
potato goop. Certainly you can add more matzo meal, but then you get less
potato taste. Instead, take the just-blended potato goop to the sink and
drain it gently with a big spoon, as you would a can of tuna.
Russet potatoes are traditional, and arguably the best-tasting, but if
you're up for variety, try Yukon Gold. Actually, try any kind of potato.
There are some 5,000 different varieties, and there's no wrong type of
fried potato. "I love starch. Starchy, starch, starch. Here it goes down,
down into my belly." Don't fear experimentation. Add more onion to the
mix. Add a clove of garlic. Add cumin or turmeric or cardamom. Remember,
it's all in the name of science.