Potatoes, which are a New World ingredient, did not enjoy widespread use in Eastern Europe until the nine-teenth century. Once the starchy tubers caught on, they were embraced with gusto, and today these potato fritters, with tender, savory insides and crackly crusts, are the undisputed king of Ashkenazi Hanukkah celebrations.
- 1.8 kg (4 lb) russet (baking) potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, and patted dry
- 1 medium onion, peeled
- ⅔ cup (95 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
- 4–5 eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ cup (25 g) finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- vegetable oil, for frying
- sour cream or apple sauce, for serving
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Line 2 large baking sheets with several layers of paper towel.
2. Grate the potatoes and onion on the large holes of a box grater. (Alternatively, cut them into quarters and shred on the shredding disc of a food processor.) Working in batches, wrap the shredded potato and onion in a tea towel or several layers of paper towel and squeeze out as much water as possible.
3. Add the shredded, squeezed potatoes and onion to a large bowl along with the flour, 4 eggs, parsley (if using), salt, and pepper. Mix until the ingredients are fully incorporated. If the mixture looks dry, mix in the remaining egg.
4. In a large frying pan, heat 6 mm (¼ inch) oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Working in batches of 4–5, drop the batter by the ¼ cup (55 g) into the pan and press gently with a spatula to flatten. Cook, flipping once, until browned on both sides and cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Continue until all of the potato mixture is used up, adding additional oil to the pan if necessary and adjusting the heat if the latkes are browning too quickly or not quickly enough.
5. Transfer latkes to the paper towels to drain. Serve immediately topped with sour cream, applesauce, or both. Or, let latkes cool and store, tightly wrapped in plastic, in the fridge or freezer. To reheat, arrange the latkes in a single layer on a baking sheet and warm in a 200°C (400°F/Gas Mark 6) oven until crisp and warmed through, about 10 minutes.
The Jewish Cookbook by Leah Koenig (Phaidon $65, hbk). Photography by Evan Sung.