I’ve tried many latke recipes over the years, some from family friends, others from cookbooks. I took elements from each of my favorite recipes to come up with my own perfect potato latke– a sort of “uber latke,” if you will. These latkes are crispy and salty on the outside, soft and melty on the inside. It wouldn’t be Hanukkah in our house without a plate of these delicious fried treats on the dinner table.
Before you fry latkes for the first time, check out my latke primer: Latkes 101 – Perfect Latkes Every Time. It will give you lots of useful tips for making a crispy, perfect latke.
You’ll notice that I suggest using schmaltz (aka rendered poultry fat) to fry the onions for the latkes. Schmaltz was the oil of choice for Eastern European Jewish immigrants to America in the late 1800′s. Back then, rendered goose fat was the most common form of schmaltz. Nowadays we tend to use chicken fat because it’s easier, cheaper, and more widely available to kosher consumers.
Schmaltz can be made at home or purchased; it’s stocked in the freezer section of most kosher markets (the most popular brand is Empire). While schmaltz is not the healthiest of oils, it imparts a delicious authentic flavor that can’t be replicated with vegetable-based oil. Because of it’s high fat and cholesterol content, I only use schmaltz to fry the onions and not the latkes themselves. This gives a hint of the flavor without saturating the latke in unhealthy oil. If you can’t locate schmaltz or don’t have time to make your own, you can substitute peanut or grapeseed oil for this step. I highly recommend the schmaltz if you can swing it.
Kosher Note: If you’re serving latkes with dairy sour cream and want to keep things kosher, do not use schmaltz– substitute grapeseed or peanut oil. Or, choose a non-dairy sour cream such as Tofutti.
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- 3 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and rinsed
- 1 large white or brown onion, minced
- 2 tbsp schmaltz (rendered chicken fat - use peanut or grapeseed oil to make pareve)
- 3 tbsp chives, minced
- 3 tbsp matzo meal or panko
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- Salt and pepper
- Peanut or grapeseed oil for frying (about 1 1/2 cups)
You will also need
- hand grater or food processor with grater attachment, colander, large mixing bowl, medium bowl, skillet
- Shred the potatoes into a large bowl of cold bowl of water using a hand grater. Alternatively, you can shred the potatoes in the food processor using the smaller grating holes for finer shreds.
- Place the shreds in a large bowl and cover in cold water. Let stand.
- Meanwhile, heat schmaltz or oil over medium. Place the minced onions in the skillet, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and lower the heat. Cover the skillet with a lid and let the onions "sweat" on a low flame for 15-20 minutes. Remove lid, turn heat to medium high, and fry the onions for a few more minutes till they turn golden brown.
- Drain potato shreds in a colander over the sink. Press down on shreds with a double layer of paper towels to squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
- Press down on shreds with a double layer of paper towels to squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
- Dry out the large bowl and put the potato shreds back in. Add fried minced onions to the bowl along with the chives, matzo meal, egg, egg yolk, 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Use clean hands to mix all ingredients thoroughly.
- In a large skillet, heat oil or schmaltz, or a combination of the two, over medium. You want the oil about 1/2 inch deep for frying. Heat the oil to about 360 degrees F; use a candy thermometer to measure heat, or use one of the methods described above.
- Place the large bowl of potatoes next to your skillet. Place a smaller empty bowl nearby. Scoop up about 1/4 cup of the potato mixture in your hand. Hold your hand over the empty bowl and squeeze any excess moisture out of the mixture, or place the mixture onto a slotted spoon and press out excess liquid into the empty bowl.
- Form the mixture into a flat thin patty and place it carefully into the hot oil to fry. Repeat until there are 4-5 patties in the frying pan (don't crowd the skillet!).
- Fry the patties for 4-5 minutes on each side until nicely browned and cooked through.
- Place latkes on a cooling rack to drain excess oil, or lay them in a single layer on paper towels.
- Sprinkle the latkes lightly with salt. Serve immediately.