Okay, I know it’s a little early for latkes (they’re traditionally a Hanukkah food), but I made these crispy gluten free treats as an appetizer for an early Thanksgiving event yesterday and I couldn’t wait to share them with you! They are so tasty– the ultimate crispy, delicious, melt-in-your-mouth latkes. Follow the steps carefully (don’t skip anything!) and you’re sure to end up with latkes that will please even the pickiest bubbe. Promise!
I made these mini latkes using Yukon Gold potatoes; they have a slightly creamy, rich natural flavor, and they crisp up beautifully when fried. I omitted the matzo meal that is so often added to the potato batter; while it helps to bind the latkes together, it adds unnecessary gluten, which can’t be digested by our gluten free friends. Instead, I decided to keep it simple– finely grated potatoes, onions, eggs, salt, white pepper, and peanut oil for frying. That’s it! That’s all you need to make a really great latke. You can add flour or matzo meal, of course, but to keep these little guys gluten free I decided to omit it. You really don’t need any sort of crumbs to bind them… potato starch will do just fine.
The real secret to these latkes is the size. Because I was serving these latkes as an appetizer, I used only a tablespoon of potato batter for each latke. The smaller size allows them to cook up more crisply and hold together better than larger latkes. Because they are small, they cook faster and require less oil, which makes them less fatty/caloric than bigger latkes. Their miniature size also makes them an irresistible bite-sized treat!
Recently, I picked up a latke cooking tip from my friend Beth that I wanted to share with you. One of the most difficult parts of cooking latkes is controlling the oil temperature. The best oil temperature for frying latkes is around 365 degrees F. If the oil becomes too hot, they burn. If the oil is not hot enough, they soak up too much oil and become soggy. Beth recommended that I try an electric skillet with a temperature control gauge that will keep the heat even and steady. All I can say is, wow! Such a simple solution, and it makes frying a much, much easier process. I’ve only tried it with my electric frying pan, so I can’t vouch for other brands, but I’m loving mine (available in the Shiksa Market).
Latkes always taste best just after they’re fried, but serving them fresh is not always a possibility, especially when you’re cooking for a large group. My friend Denise Vivaldo, a chef and food stylist, has made latkes for large catering groups (we’re talking 5,000 latkes in one sitting!). She told me that a convection oven is the best way to reheat latkes before serving. The dry, circulating heat of a convection oven keeps the latkes crisp and fresh. You would be wise to take Denise’s advice; she’s catered the Academy Awards and cooked for presidents and royalty, so she knows a thing or two about great food! If you have a convection oven, use it for the reheating process. If not, you can use a regular oven– reheating instructions appear at the end of the recipe. Don’t use a microwave to reheat, it will take the crispness out of the latkes and they won’t be nearly as yummy.
Make sure you grate these latkes fine (with the small holes of a grater or food processor). Larger shreds won’t hold together as well, which may necessitate having to add more eggs and matzo meal or flour to the mix.
I know latkes are a Hanukkah food, but I have a feeling I’ll be serving these mini potato wonders year-round. You can easily make them kosher for Passover by using a Passover approved cooking oil (like KFP extra virgin olive oil). Olive oil has a lower smoke point than peanut, so watch the temperature carefully to make sure the oil doesn’t become brown/smoky. Enjoy!
Update: I am always working to make the best recipe possible for my readers. I’ve refined this recipe since it was originally posted, cutting down the amount of egg, salt, and white pepper. If you don’t find the latkes salty enough, you can sprinkle more salt to taste after cooking.
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- 2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
- 2 medium onions
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- Peanut oil for frying
- Potato starch (optional)
You will also need
- hand grater or food processor shredding disc attachment with fine holes, clean tea towel or layers of cheesecloth, skillet or electric skillet for frying, metal spatula, wire cooling rack
- Before you begin making the latkes, place your wire cooling rack close to the area where you will be frying the latkes. Place a layer of paper towels below the cooling rack to catch excess oil.
- Peel the potatoes, then grate them using a hand grater or food processor shredding attachment with fine holes (small shreds).
- Place grated potato into a bowl and immediately cover with cold water. Let soak for a few minutes to remove excess starch.
- Meanwhile, grate the onion using the same grater or attachment you used for the potatoes (fine holes for small shreds).
- Drain the potato shreds in a colander. Rinse and dry the bowl used to soak the shreds and set aside.
- Place drained potato shreds and grated onion in the center of a clean tea towel or multiple layers of cheesecloth.
- Wrap the shreds up in the cloth, twisting loose material to secure the bundle, and squeeze firmly to remove excess liquid from the shreds.
- Pour potato and onion into the clean, dry bowl. Stir the shreds with a fork to make sure the grated onion is evenly mixed throughout the potato shreds.
- Pour peanut oil into skillet to a depth of 1/8 inch. Heat slowly over medium to about 365 degrees F.
- While oil is heating, use the fork to stir the beaten egg, salt, and pepper into the potato shreds. Take care to make sure the egg and seasonings are fully mixed throughout the potato shreds.
- Scoop up a rounded tablespoon of potato batter and squeeze it firmly in your palm over an empty dish to remove excess liquid.
- Shape the batter into a rough disk.
- Place it gently into the hot oil. Use a metal spatula to gently press down on the latke to flatten it.
- The oil should sizzle but not pop when the batter hits it; if the oil jumps wildly or smokes, it is too hot. If it only bubbles weakly, the oil is not hot enough.
- Continue shaping the latkes in this way, using only a rounded tablespoon of potato batter for each latke. Fry in batches of 5 or 6 latkes at a time for 2-3 minutes per side till brown and crispy. Note: If your latkes aren't holding together, stir some potato starch into the mixture, 2 teaspoons at a tie, till the batter "holds."
- Remove the latkes from the pan using metal spatula and place them on wire cooling rack to drain.
- I recommend serving latkes fresh within 10 minutes of frying them, if your cooking schedule permits. If you need to make them ahead, fry them 4 hours or less before serving. After letting the latkes drain on the wire cooling rack, place them on an ungreased, unlined cookie sheet. Leave them at room temperature till ready to reheat. Place in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes (7 if using a convection oven), until heated through, just prior to serving.
- Serve latkes with applesauce and/or sour cream, if desired.