Latkes

 
Latkes
Date Uploaded: 
Monday 19th December 2016

Served with homemade apple sauce

Latkes to me are pure comfort food.

My mother makes the best latkes ever. I have tried to capture the quantities of her recipe here but, in truth, she does it through taste and feel. In addition to that, considering that all potatoes were not created equal and the moisture levels do fluctuate between them, my mother’s and my grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s recipes never had much call for exact quantities.

My advice? Use the recipe below as a guide – I promise it will work. But just in case you choose to release your inner ballaboosta (more on this in the future), venture out into the great unknown of “making it up as you go along”. The results, I am sure, will be fabulous.

Ingredients:

  • 2 kilos white potatoes (unpeeled) scrubbed clean and dried (yes you heard me right – we are not peeling the potatoes – I guarantee no-one will notice)
  • 2 medium onions, peeled
  • 85 grams (¼ cup) matzah meal (medium ground – if possible)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Pepper (optional)
  • Oil for frying
  • Apple sauce to serve (recipe to follow)
  • Special equipment: a food processer with grating attachment, or a box grater and a willing person to grate…

Method:

  1. Grate the potatoes and onions and place in a large bowl.
  2. Working in batches (using either your hands, a few clean tea towels or a potato ricer), squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the grated vegetables.
  3. Let the liquid go down the drain or into a second bowl rather than back into the bowl holding the not-yet-squeezed dry vegetables.
  4. Now place the dried vegetables into a new bowl (the more liquid you remove, the crispier your latkes will be).
  5. Once you have finished squeezing dry all the vegetables, add to the potatoes the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Now get ready to fry…

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil until it is sizzling. #
  2. Drop 2 tablespoons of latke mixture into the hot oil and flatten them slightly using a spatula and add more latkes, spacing them about an inch apart.
  3. Cook until crispy, golden brown and cooked through, turning the latkes once. This should take 4-5 minutes per batch.
  4. Keep adjusting the temperature as needed.
  5. Transfer latkes to paper towel lined dish to drain.

“Serve immediately” is my preference, but if you have more patience than I do (sometimes I just skip serving the guests entirely), preheat oven to 120 C, line a baking tray with foil and place the cooked latkes on the tray to stay warm until you are done frying the whole batch.

Homemade applesauce:

I’m aware that it is so American to serve latkes with apple sauce, but I love it. It’s a tradition I just cannot get enough of – the sizzling, oily latke topped with cool, sweet apple sauce that cuts through the oil and adds an extra dimension to the simple potato dish. If nothing else, try this applesauce for dessert sometimes. Nothing could be simpler.

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 kilos Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into one small pieces
  • 1 cup water
  • 60 grams light brown sugar
  • 2 pieces of lemon rind (using a vegetable peeler, peel two long strips of lemon rind from a large lemon)
  • The juice of one lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Method:

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the lemon juice in a heavy saucepan.
  2. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until apples are very tender.
  4. Uncover the saucepan and simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Remove from heat, fish out the lemon rind and cinnamon stick, stir in lemon juice.
  6. Cool for 30 minutes before using a fork to mash the apples.
  7. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate (can be prepared 3 days ahead).