Chanukah is one of my favorite holidays. I love the twinkling lights from the menorahs seen through everyone’s windows and the joy on the kids’ faces when it’s finally present time! But my absolute favorite part of Chanukah is the smell of freshly fried latkes and watching my family devouring these delicious treats.
Over the years we have all developed our own techniques for great latkes so I would like to share mine with you. Happy Chanukah!
1. Starchy Potatoes! Russet potatoes are really the best potatoes for latkes as they are the starchiest potatoes you can buy and starchy potatoes = super crispy latkes.
2. There is a debate out there whether it’s better to hand grate the potatoes or use a food processor. I find that the food processor will give your mixture a wetter consistency. That being said, we all know it’s a huge time savor so go ahead and use the food processor – just add a bit more flour to the mixture.
3. Don’t throw out the starch. After the shredded potatoes are in cold water for about 10 minutes (to prevent them from turning brown), you can then drain the water into a new bowl leaving the potatoes in the sieve – make sure all the water is out of those potatoes. In the water you will find the starch settles to the bottom – you can save that starch (it’s white with a milky consistency) and then add it BACK to the potatoes for super crispy latkes.
4. Drain those potatoes – the drier the potatoes means the crispier those latkes will be!
5. Don’t forget to season the potato mixture! I find that I like to change it up beyond the standard salt and pepper. Feel free to add a little cayenne for some heat or some zatar for a more Mediterranean taste. Have a sweet tooth? Add cinnamon! And if you are already going down a savory route – feel free to get creative with your toppings. Maybe a guacamole or onion dip – both are delicious with those crispy latkes.
6. Oil, oil, oil! One of the key elements to the perfect latke is the type of oil and the temperature of the oil. I feel that a good canola oil really works best as it has a higher smoke point than most other oil. I find the best way to test if the oil is hot enough is to add a small bit of the batter and see how it does. It should immediately start to sizzle and then start to brown.
7. Don’t overcrowd the pan. The minute you add too many latkes that hot oil will start to cool way down and then you won’t get that perfect golden brown crispy outside. I like to do a maximum of 3-4 in a pan depending on how big your pan is. Another tip – do NOT use a non-stick pan or else your latkes won’t get that caramelize as well.
8. As we all know – salt is a key ingredient in almost everything we cook and bake and it’s especially important on anything fried. So as soon as you pull those latkes out – blot them lightly with a paper towel and sprinkle salt on right away.
9. Party time! Most of us fry latkes for a crowd – a big family, friends, annual Chanukah party – you name it! You want to make sure those latkes stay nice a toasty once they are fried so set your oven to 250 and put them in there as your guests settle in.
10. Most of us think latkes MUST be made fresh but that’s actually a myth! You can make them ahead and freeze them on a cookie sheet and once frozen, pack them nice and airtight in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to serve – let them thaw a bit and then set your oven all the way up to 450 and warm them!