It’s Chanukah, which means it’s that time of year again. Time for me to suck it up and fry something. I know fried foods are delicious, but I can never bring myself to fry things when I know how bad it is for you. But I make one exception every year; I make traditional latkas. Now Chanukah is a holiday based around oil, so I really can’t justify making latkas any other way.
I know that technically latkas are translated as “potato pancakes,” but I grew up eating chunky, crispy latkas that really don’t resemble the fluffy pancakes that I eat for breakfast. Maybe it’s more appropriate to call them potato crisps. I like mine especially crispy, even nearly burnt, but I know that some people prefer them to be a little lighter.
|But really, they're better when they're all dark and crispy|
Top these Chanukah goodies with some applesauce, and finish off your meal with some sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) and chocolate gelt. I could totally eat like this for eight days.
Latkas (potato pancakes/crisps)
2 russet potatoes
1 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoons water
1 medium onion
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying
Applesauce (to top the latkas)
1. Wash and peel the potatoes and onion. Grate the onion on a fine grate, and the potatoes on a thick one. You want the onion to be evenly mixed in with everything, but you want the potatoes to stand out and crisp up.
2. Add cornstarch, water, salt and pepper, and mix everything well. As you’re frying, keep mixing What's still in the bowl pretty frequently. The starch from the potatoes will get pulled out and will settle at the bottom, so you want to keep mixing it in so that your first batch and your last batch have equal amounts of starch.
Also keep in mind that potatoes discolor when they’re out in the air for too long. They aren’t going bad, they’re just oxidizing. Try and get them fried up as soon as possible after grating them, but they’ll still taste just as good even if they’ve started to turn red.
3. Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add a thick coat of canola oil. Once the oil is hot (it’ll be shimmering), scoop out a spoonful of the latka mixture and dump it into the oil. Flatten it out a bit with the spoon, then repeat until the pan is full of latkas (but don’t overcrowd it). Fry for a few minutes on each side, until the latkas have reached your optimal level of crispiness.
4. Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet and line it with a paper towel. Put finished latkas on top of the paper towel to drain. If you’ve somehow managed to keep fresh-off-the-stove latkas around long enough to fill up the whole rack, place a paper towel over the latkas and add another layer on top.
You can also fry the latkas ahead of time. Take a loaf pan, line it with a paper towel, and stack the latkas on their sides (like a roll of crackers or cookies) and put the pan into the refrigerator. When you’re getting ready to serve them, let the latkas come to room temperature, then place them, still in the loaf pan, into a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes before serving. This should keep them nice and crispy.
5. Top with your favorite applesauce and serve warm.