Hanukkah Latkes

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Freshly Made Latkes with Sour Cream & Homemade Applesauce

Freshly Made Latkes with Sour Cream & Homemade Applesauce

Latkes, or potato pancakes, are one of my favorite traditional Hanukkah foods.  I love potatoes in all forms so I make these throughout the year, sometimes as a main dish for dinner!  There are new, hoity toity recipes out there now using various root vegetables and sweet potatoes, sweet things and savory items.  But here’s the thing: when it comes to many of the foods I ate growing up… I do not like change.

No thank you to bananas added to my famous black bottom pie.  Feh to savory herbs added to a cookie dough.   I don’t want or like  vegetables stirred into my matzo ball mixture.  I crave the real, authentic deal.  I get stubborn and unyielding about this.  And so it is with latkes: I only enjoy the original, traditional mixture I remember.  With pink applesauce and sour cream, thank you very much.

Potatoes & Latkes

Potatoes & Latkes

I use a basic recipe from Cooks Illustrated … with a few personal tweaks, of course.

Thick and Creamy Potato Latkes

Makes approximately Fifteen  3-inch pancakes


  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled but washed well.  Cut into pieces that will fit into the food processor top so you can shred them.
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into 10 small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons table (fine) salt
  • ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1-1 1/2  cup vegetable oil for frying – divided (I use organic canola oil labeled “for high heat”)

Put the grating blade into the food processor.  Grate potatoes in food processor fitted with a coarse shredding blade.

Place half of the shredded potatoes in a large strainer sieve set over a medium bowl and let them drain.

Fit a food processor with the steel chopping blade, add onions, and pulse with remaining shredded potatoes that aren’t draining until all pieces measure roughly ⅛ inch and look coarsely chopped – six to eight  1-second pulses. Mix with reserved potato shreds (in sieve) and press against the strainer to drain as much liquid as possible into the bowl below. Let the potato liquid stand until the starch settles to the bottom, about one minute. Pour off this liquid, leaving the starch in bowl (the starch is cloudy and there will just be a small amount of it).

Beat egg, then potato mixture and remaining ingredients (except oil), into starch.

Meanwhile, if at all possible heat an very large electric skillet to 375 degree and add the oil.  I do this outside my kitchen door on a table so the smell of potatoes does not permeate my house.  If you are doing it stovetop (not recommended for me) TURN ON THE STOVE OVERHEAD FAN and heat ¼-inch depth of oil in a 12-inch nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking.

Working one at a time, place 1/3  cup potato mixture, squeezed of excess liquid and pressed into ½-inch thick disc, in oil. Press gently with a nonstick spatula; repeat until five to seven latkes are in the pan.  Note: lots of liquid comes out, and I prefer to make these much thinner and crisper!!

Latkes Cooking in the Pan

Latkes Cooking in the Pan

Maintaining heat so fat bubbles around latke edges, fry them until golden brown on the bottom and edges – about three minutes. Turn with a spatula and continue frying until golden brown all over, about three minutes more.  By the way, in an electric skillet I use a lot more oil and it literally bubbles.

Drain on a triple thickness of paper towels set on a wire rack over a jelly roll pan. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture, returning oil to temperature between each batch and replacing oil after the second batch. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Cooled latkes can be covered loosely with plastic wrap, held at room temperature for four hours, transferred to a heated cookie sheet, and baked in 375-degree oven, until crisp and hot, about five minutes per side. Or they can be frozen on a cookie sheet, transferred to a zip-lock freezer bag, frozen, and reheated in a 375-degree oven until crisp and hot, about eight minutes per side. Best of all is to eat them right after they are done frying!

Note: I always wear old shabby clothes and an apron because this is a messy endeavor, even outside.  If you do this stovetop, the entire kitchen (actually my entire condominium hallway) and my clothing smell like fried potatoes when I make these.  When I finish, I open the windows, take a shower and burn a nice smelling candle .



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