Every year I look forward to Chanukah so I have an excuse to make latkes. They are simple and delicious, and for me, completely evocative of the holiday season.
For the onion in this recipe, I prefer to use shallots. If you want to make a sweet potato version, try red onions. When working with the sweet potatoes you can follow the same basic recipe, but they will require some extra care when flipping over. If you don’t want to worry about them sticking together, add an egg.
For both potato versions, the best advice is after you put them in the cast iron skillet, do not overcrowd the skillet, or your oil temperature will go way down, resulting in soggy laktes. Be patient and the cooking process will keep the potato mixture together. Turn over when golden brown on the bottom.
6 medium russet potatoes
5 Tbsp. flour
1 ½ tsp. salt, plus more to taste
Pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil for frying
Grate the onion and potatoes, and drain all of the liquid from them. The drier the better! You can use your hands to wring and press out the liquid, but a clean, non-fuzzy kitchen towel works the best.
Add the flour, salt, and pepper to taste.
Heat a deep cast-iron pan with about 1/4 inch of olive oil over medium heat. Test the heat of the oil by dropping in a small piece of potato. The oil is ready once the potato cooks quickly to a golden brown with out burning. Adjust the heat as necessary.
Grab a small handful of the grated potato mixture and squeeze tightly to form a disc-like patty similar to a thin burger. You will have to squeeze the liquid out or it won’t stick together. Add patties a few at a time to the hot oil. They should become golden brown fairly quickly, but still have time for the inside portion to cook.
Pull them out with a spatula and set them on a plate with a paper towel on it to drain. Adjust the heat to achieve the desired outer crispiness and inner softness.
Serve with homemade applesauce and/or sour cream.
For this recipe, it’s fine to omit the sugar and spices. Taste the applesauce, and then add sugar, if you like. A little butter is another nice touch.
4 cups of apples: Pink Ladies, Gala, Granny Smith, or other local apples
½ cup sugar, or to taste
1 cinnamon stick
4-5 whole cloves
Peel and core the apples, then cut into slices. Add to a pot with a little water, the cinnamon stick, and cloves. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the apples begin to fall apart. If you like your applesauce smoother, use a hand-held food mill or potato masher to process after cooking. When using a food mill, it isn’t necessary to peel the apples first.