Amelia Saltsman’s Best Potato Latkes

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Sierra Gold Potatoes
Sierra Gold Potatoes (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Amelia Saltsman was at the Farmers Market this week shopping for ingredients for her potato latkes.  Her family recipe comes from the book Love and Knishes by Sara Kasdan.  She likes to use Sierra Gold potatoes from Jerry Rutiz and Weiser Farms’ German Butterball potatoes.  Hear her conversation with Laura Avery this week on Good Food. The recipe is after the jump…

Latkes cooking 12.1.10Best Potato Latkes

“These latkes are thin, crisp, and pan-fried, not deep-fried. My family’s traditional recipe is inspired by Sara Kasden’s from her hilarious cookbook Love and Knishes (Vanguard, 1956) that my mother found in a used book shop fifty-some years ago. You need a starchy potato for good latkes; the starch helps bind the pancake together. Sierra Golds (a cross between a Yukon Gold and a Russet) from Jerry Rutiz are wonderful here, as are Weiser Farm’s German Butterballs.”

The basic proportions are one egg to two cups grated potatoes, which is pretty much what you get from one pound. This recipe will make around 24 latkes, enough for 4 to 6 servings.

2 pounds starchy potatoes, peeled
1 small onion
2 to 3 eggs
2 heaping tablespoons flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
Freshly ground black pepper
Additional salt for finishing, preferably something coarse like Maldon Sea Salt
Vegetable oil
Applesauce and sour cream, Greek yogurt, or crème fraiche for serving

Grate potatoes. The “yellow cheese” side of an old-fashioned box grater makes the nicest shreds, but if you’re making latkes for a crowd you may want to use a food processor fitted with grater disk. Place the potatoes in a strainer to drain. Grate the onion. It should look like onion pulp.

If you want to be precise, measure the grated potatoes. If you have 4 cups worth, you’ll need 2 eggs. If your potatoes yielded closer 6 cups, go with 3 eggs. Or, you can just eyeball it and not worry. Use a whisk or fork to beat eggs in a small bowl to blend. In a large mixing bowl, stir together potatoes, onion, flour, salt, baking powder and a few grindings of black pepper. Stir in eggs.

Have paper towel-lined sheet pans, the bowl of latke batter, a large spoon, and a spatula ready near the stove. Heat one or two large skillets over medium heat. Generously film the pan(s) with vegetable oil (not more than 1/4-inch deep). Keep additional oil handy. When the oil shimmers in the pan and a tiny bit of batter dropped in sizzles immediately, start spooning in pancake mixture by the tablespoonful, flattening each with the back of the spoon to a circle, 3 to 4 inches in diameter. Don’t crowd the pan; you can probably get 4 to 5 pancakes in a 12-inch skillet. Cook until golden brown, flip and cook second side, about 5 minutes total. As the latkes are done, transfer to paper towels. Continue making the rest of the latkes, adding oil as needed at the edge of the pan (tilt the pan a bit when you add oil to give it a chance to heat quickly).

Sprinkle latkes with a little additional salt and serve with applesauce and/or sour cream.

© 2010, Amelia Saltsman.