Every year we have the same conversation. I'm in my mother's kitchen, preparing to help her make potato latkes for the whole family. There's probably a football game on in the adjacent family room. The dogs are asleep on the couch.
Me: How many potatoes do we need?
My mother: Oh, I think 8 is enough.
Me: Oh, no, no, no. That is definitely not enough. Let's add a few more. (I add 10 potatoes to the bowl.)
My mother: Emily! That is too many. It will take us 3 hours to make all of those. (She takes 5 potatoes out of the bowl.)
Me: Mom, look, there are never enough potato latkes, ever. I could eat all of these myself. (I put the 5 potatoes back in the bowl).
(My mother glares at me.)
My mother: Alright, fine, but you have to help me.
Me: Of course!
And so it goes. And it's true, there are never enough of my mother's potato latkes. Maybe it's the combination of my Jewish and Irish roots (hence Chrismukkah!), but I think they are one of the most delicious foods on earth, period. Crispy, earthy, salty, with a little sourcream and applesauce it is tuber heaven. We only make them once a year, right around Hanukah, which makes them extra special.
Let me be frank. Mushy potato latkes suck. And most potato latkes are kind of mushy. There are two very important things to keep in mind during this process if you want to avoid mushy and/or greasy latkes.
First, when it comes time, you have to squeeze the grated potato like your life depends on it. I mean, you're like that guy in the fairy tale who tries to squeeze water out of a rock, you dig? Second, make sure the oil is hot enough. I strongly recommend cooking a small test latke before filling the pan. Hot, sizzling, but not insanely smokey.
Follow this simple recipe and share potato latke bliss with your friends and family during this season of joy. A food processor with a grater attachment or a box grater and a rock climber friend with insane forearms are good accessories to have for the prep. Happy Chrismukkah!
Joanne's Potato Latkes (serves 6-8)
What you need:
6 medium to large all-purpose potatoes (not baking), not peeled
1 medium to large onion, peeled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c. plain bread or cracker crumbs
What to do:
Grate all of the potates and the onion. Once grated, place them in a large colander over a bowl or sink and sprinkle with 2 tsp of salt. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
Get ready to squeeze. Handful by handful, remove the potato-onion mixture from the colander, squeeze it as hard as you can over the sink and then transfer to a dry bowl.
Add the eggs and crumbs and combine. Sprinkle in a tsp of black pepper.
Heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet until hot. Scoop a spoonful of batter into the pan and spread it out a bit with the back of the spoon. Cook until the edges are brown and then carefully turn over and brown the other side. Drain on paper towels.
Sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve immediately with applesauce and sourcream.