Many try. Some fail. A few lucky succeed. It’s a balancing act really. Keeping the grated potatoes from browning. Finding the right amount of onion to add flavor. And, as we already experienced last year, frying is an unrecognized art form. The Scots are onto something with the whole deep fry everything approach. It’s a heck of a lot easier to just dunk something as opposed to keeping a pan hot but not smoking and preventing your latkes from soaking up — instead of sizzling in — the glugs of sunflower oil. Truly, if you were to add up the oil we used last year making latkes, it probably would be enough to fill that deep fryer!
But now for the good news. In last week’s IJN Chanukah Foods section we ran a feature on oil. Or, to be accurate, shmaltz – the Ashkenazi food of the goods, or for those not in the know, rendered chicken fat. Chanukah. Oil. Shmaltz. The result? An amazing recipe for latkes. The secret? You got it in one. Shmaltz. Of course the only downside is that unless you have parve sour cream on hand, condiments are limited to applesauce.
Latkes the Old Fashioned Way
- 1 small onion
- 6 large baking potatoes (Idaho)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 TB flour, more if needed
- kosher salt to taste
- 6 TB shmaltz
Finely chop the onion and place in a large bowl. Scrape the skin from the potatoes and rinse them under cold water. Pat dry on paper towels.
Over a platter, grate the potatoes on the coarse side of a box grater. Place the grated potatos in the bowl with the onion. Add the egg and mix the contents together with a fork. Sprinkle in the flour and mix again. If the batter is too wet, add a mit more flour. (However, it will be a moist batter.)
Heat the shmaltz in large skillet on a medium flame. With your hands, form latkes that are 2.5" in diameter. Using your palms, flatten the pancakes and squeeze out any excess water that may have drained from the potatoes.
Place latkes in the pan and fry until the bottom side browns. Flatten the latkes with a spatula as they sizzle. Flip and fry until the second side browns. Add more shmaltz if needed. When dark brown, drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
Both the Chanukah Foods and this week’s 5-section Chanukah Edition are packed with traditional, creative, and multiethnic Chanukah recipes. Get your copies from Carol at the IJN (email@example.com or 303-861-2234).