Cookbook review by Tracey Zabar
Break out the sour cream and applesauce! These latkes, cooked in extra-virgin olive oil (brilliant) are amazing. Happy Chanukah!
Recipe by Alison Cayne
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Makes sixteen to twenty 4-inch latkes
The best latkes (the Yiddish word for potato pancakes) have a potato-chip exterior with a mashed-potato interior. Though simple, latkes are great examples of the balance between crunchy and creamy, the duality of salty and sweet. Popularized in the nineteenth century in Eastern Europe and a traditional Hanukkah dish, latkes are great served as a snack with a dollop of sour cream or applesauce, as a side dish for Roasted Leg of Lamb or as the main event surrounded by a few slices of smoked salmon and Quick Pickled Cucumbers and garnished with some minced dill.
3 Idaho russet potatoes, peeled
1 large egg, whisked
Fine sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
flaky sea salt, such as Maldon to finish
¼ cup sliced or diced onion
¼ cup chopped fresh chives
Set up a landing station next to your frying area: place a wire rack on a baking sheet and have a spatula handy.
Using a box grater or a food processor fitted with the shredding blade, grate the potatoes into a large bowl. You should have about 4 cups of shredded potatoes. Wrap the potatoes in a kitchen towel and squeeze out the excess moisture; squeezing should generate about ½ cup of liquid. The potatoes may turn a bit reddish-brown. Don’t worry— that’s okay!
Put the potatoes back in the bowl. Add the egg and a large pinch of salt (the optional onion or chives also could be added at this point) and mix the ingredients with your hands. (Yes, your hands! Although you can use a wooden spoon if you prefer.)
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and pour in ¼ to ½ inch of oil. Wait for the oil to shimmer before forming the patties. You can test the temperature by putting the handle of a wooden spoon or a wooden chopstick into the oil; if it’s hot, bubbles will form around it.
Using your nondominant hand, scoop up about ¹/₃ cup of the mixture. Use the side of the bowl to help form the mixture into a patty. Drain any excess liquid into the bowl, and gently lay the patty in the hot oil. Keep your other hand clean and dry so you can use your spatula and grab a towel if needed. Gently press the latke with the spatula until evenly flat.
Fry in batches until the edges brown and get lacy, 2 to 3 minutes. Don’t crowd the pan, as you will not get the crispiness you seek. Flip the patties and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Continually monitor and adjust the temperature of the oil while frying; too-hot oil will result in burnt edges and raw middles.
When the latkes are browned on the second side, use the spatula to transfer them to the wire rack, sprinkle with flaky sea salt, and serve hot.
Before frying the next batch, check your oil: if it is dark brown, smells, or is filled with burnt bits, ditch it and start with fresh oil. Wipe down the pan with paper towels, taking care not to burn yourself, and then add more oil to coat the bottom again, heat the oil, and fry the remaining patties.
Excerpted from The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School by Alison Cayne (Artisan). Copyright © 2017 Allison Cayne. Photographs Copyright © 2017 by Con Poulos.