December 2, 2010 • Posted by Jennifer Perillo
This week, Jewish homes around the world will be frying up latkes, also known as potato pancakes, in celebration of Hanukkah. Some foods are so delicious, though, they should be enjoyed year-round, and by everyone regardless of religion. Such is the case with these latkes. Notice I didn’t say every latke, because in my years I’ve had some soggy patties not worth the time or calories.
Last year, a friend shared one of the best secrets ever with me for making a crisp on the outside, soft-pillowy on the inside latke. It’s actually the brainchild of all-things home and food guru Martha Stewart (or perhaps the credit really goes to a test kitchen assistant). Regardless, I haven’t looked back and have happily been enjoying latkes prepared this way since last Hanukkah. They have graced our breakfast table, made their way into my daughter’s lunch with homemade apple sauce, and even been served as a substitute for French fries with burger.
The secret you ask? Quite simple actually—add the potato’s natural starch back to them. Let the grated potatoes sit in icy cold water for a few minutes to crisp them up. Scoop the potatoes into a cloth towel and let them sit for a few minutes to drain. Then, let the water sit for 10 minutes, and when you look back, you’ll see the starch has settled to the bottom of the bowl. Carefully pour off the water, and you’re left with the starchy goodness that’ll yield the crispiest latke ever.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes about 18
2 large russet potatoes, peeled
1 small white onion, finely grated
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil, for frying
- Fill a deep bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes. Using a hand grater, shred the potatoes into the bowl. Using a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes, reserving liquid, to another large bowl lined with a clean kitchen towel; gently squeeze dry.
- Set reserved liquid aside for 10 minutes to allow starch to sink to the bottom; carefully pour liquid from the bowl, reserving milky residue, this is the potato starch. Transfer potatoes back to the bowl with potato starch. Add onions to bowl; stir in eggs, salt, and pepper.
- Line a baking sheet with paper towels; set aside. In a heavy nonstick skillet, heat 1/4-inch of oil. Spoon a scant 1/4 cup of potato mixture per pancake into skillet, working in batches and taking care not to crowd the pan.
- Fry on both sides until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to prepared baking sheet to drain; transfer to a 250ºF oven to keep warm. Repeat process with remaining potato mixture. Serve hot with applesauce, or sour cream and caviar, if desired.
Over the years I’ve found there’s no need to add sweetener to homemade applesauce as long as you choose the right combination of apples. My favorites are Empires and Golden Delicious, but Jonah Golds, Fuji and Gala work well too. It’s also a perfect first food for babies venturing into solids.
Makes 1 1/2 cups
1 Empire apple, peeled and diced
1 Golden Delicous apple, peeled and diced
1/4 cup water
- Add ingredients to a small pot and cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and simmer until very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Mash with fork for a chunky applesauce or puree in a food processor for a smooth texture.