Happy Hanukkah! Today is the first day of Hanukkah, as I’m sure you are all aware, so I wanted to celebrate with some classic comfort food for the holiday: latkes! I had never made them prior to this, so I was a little intimidated by them, if you can imagine that. It’s only potatoes and onions (or in my case, shallots), but frying things always makes me a little nervous. I’m always worried that the thing I am attempting to fry will turn out soggy, burned, or tasteless. I only fry things every so often, but each time I do, my fears are put to rest pretty quickly; I just have to get in the kitchen and start cooking. I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way about frying or other aspects of cooking. It’s hard to put your fears aside and just go for it, even when it’s something as simple as latkes. Yes, latkes are insanely easy to make, require very few ingredients, and are absolutely delicious. These latkes in particular have a lovely flavor due to the savory shallots that I used in place of an onion, but if you’ve only got an onion on hand, they will still be fantastic. What’s not to love about fried potatoes? I just prefer the richer flavor of shallots and I highly recommend picking some up to try in this recipe (as well as many others in place of a regular ol’ onion). After letting these tasty little potato pancakes fry for a few minutes and dry on a towel, I could barely keep Kramer away from the kitchen, he was so excited to sample a few. We ate these along with a little dollop of homemade applesauce (a recipe which you will see next week), as both of us are suckers for the sweet-and-salty combination. Latkes are wonderful with a number of accompaniments, though, not just applesauce. You can eat them with sour cream, horseradish, lox, with eggs, or inside of a sandwich, as Kramer did (we had leftover brisket sandwiches which he ingeniously stuffed a latke or two inside of). Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday, latkes are an insanely simple treat to make for any occasion, especially if picky eaters are involved (or someone who cannot eat eggs, as these are egg-free latkes).
Peel your potatoes.
Grate your potatoes, either with a grater or a mandolin (I used a mandolin that I got for my birthday as one of my gifts from my lovely husband). Squeeze as much water out of them as possible with paper towels. I let mine sit in the fridge for a few hours, covered in paper towels, to dry out a bit more, but if you don’t have the time for that, it’s not completely necessary.
Dice your shallots.
Toss the potatoes and shallots together, then toss with salt, pepper, and cornstarch. Let sit for a few minutes so that the mixture sticks together better.
Heat a thin layer of oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, drop spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the oil, and press down slightly with the back of your spoon or a spatula. It might look like they are not staying together at first, but they will in a few seconds.
After a minute and a half or so, flip the latkes with tongs or a spatula. Press down again with the back of a spoon or your spatula and fry for another minute or two, until golden and crisp on both sides.
Lay the cooked latkes down on some paper towels to absorb the oil for 2 minutes or so, then serve and enjoy!
I highly recommend eating these with a dollop of applesauce…which I will have a recipe for very soon!
- 3 large potatoes (I used about 5 small potatoes), peeled and grated
- 1 large shallot (or half an onion), minced
- 3-4 teaspoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- vegetable or canola oil, for frying
- Peel your potatoes, and grate them with a cheese grater or a mandolin. Squeeze them with paper towels or a clean cloth to get out as much water as possible. If you have time, lay them out on top of paper towels on a baking sheet and top with paper towels, then place in the fridge for 1-2 hours. If you don't have time for that, though, it isn't completely necessary. Just try to get out as much water as possible.
- When you are ready to cook your latkes, toss the grated potatoes in a bowl with the shallots, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Let sit for a few minutes so that it sticks together a bit better. While it sits, heat a thin layer (3-4 tablespoons, or more, depending on how large your skillet it) of oil in a large skillet over high heat.
- When the oil is hot, drop in spoonfuls of the potato mixture into the oil and press down with the back of your spoon or a spatula. I did 3-4 latkes per batch. Fry for a minute or two on one side, then flip with a spatula or tongs and press down on them again with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Fry for another minute or two, until golden and crispy on both sides. Lay the cooked latkes out on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb the oil for 1-2 minutes, then serve and enjoy. Makes 10-12 latkes.