Frying up latkes, a tradition that my mother taught me, and her mother taught her, marks the official start to my holiday season. There’s something magical about the sound of sizzling, golden potatoes in a hot cast iron skillet. Making latkes side by side with my Mom makes it a truly special experience.
Tonight, inspired by a Huffington Post article extolling the virtues of Julia Child’s potato galette, a French latke, of sorts, we tried out a new technique: pre-steaming our potatoes. Keeping the rest of my recipe the same, the addition of a pre-steaming step was a huge success.
In case you’re considering whipping up a batch of latkes yourself, you’ll need:
- 4 large russet potatoes
- 3 eggs
- 1 Tbsp of salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3/4 cup of Panko bread crumbs or finely crushed matzo crackers
- approximately 1 cup of olive oil
Scrub potatoes clean. Steam until potatoes are firm, but you can easily insert a knife (anywhere from 15-20 minutes, depending on your potatoes) . Special thanks to Food52 for showing me how to steam without a steamer.
Once the potatoes are steamed. Remove from your steamer (or makeshift steamer) and place on a plate. Let them thoroughly cool. I started mine out on the counter top for about 2 hours and then popped them in the fridge to speed up the cooling process (I simply couldn’t wait for my latkes any longer).
Peel your cooled, steamed potatoes. The potato skin should slide right off without difficulty with the aid of a knife. Next, grate your potatoes on the large side of your cheese grater (too fine and you’ll lose the crispy, crunch latke edges I love so much).
Crack and beat three eggs. Stir in salt, black & cayenne pepper. Combine the egg mixture with your grated potatoes and bread crumbs.
Heat approximately 1/4 inch of olive oil in a cast iron skillet. While the oil is heating, you can start shaping your potatoes latke mixture into pancakes. I make each pancake with about 3 Tbsp of mixture, keeping the the pancake to 1/2″ or less in thickness. They fry up best this way.
Once the oil is hot, fry one pancake until brown on both sides. Remove from the oil and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Once cool, taste to ensure that you’re happy with your salt & pepper ratio. If not, now’s your chance to add a bit more spice. Once you’re happy, form pancakes one at a time and place into the hot oil, making sure not to crowd the pan. This recipe should yield 25 potato latkes.
You can either serve latkes immediately, or keep them in the oven until they’re all fried and ready to serve. Sour cream, apple sauce and a side of Israeli salad are my accompaniments of choice, but potatoes go well with just about everything. Enjoy!