Vegetarian Recipe: Classic Potato Latkes

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Every week on the Good Food Blog we celebrate Meatless Monday by sharing a vegetarian recipe from our archives.

Jayne Cohen cooks up crisp, delicious latkes, or potato pancakes, for Hannukah in her book, Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lovers Treasury of Classics and Improvisations. For more information about Jayne, visit her website Jewish Holiday Cooking.  She first shared this recipe for Classic Potato Latkes on December 20, 2008.

Keep reading for the full recipe…

Classic Potato Latkes
1 ½ lbs Russet (baking) or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
½ lb onions, peeled and quartered
1 large egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon matzoh meal or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp baking powder
Olive or canola oil, for frying

Coarsely shred the potatoes and the onions, using the shredding disk in a food processor. (Don’t wash out the food processor as you’ll be using it again right away.) Transfer the mixture to a colander or strainer and use your hands or a wooden spoon to press out as much moisture as possible.

Remove the shredding disk from the processor and replace with the steel blade. Return about one third of the shredded potatoes and onions to work bowl and process, using the pulse motion, until roughly pureed. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining potatoes and onions from the colander, and the egg, matzoh meal, salt, pepper, and baking powder. Mix until thoroughly combined.

In a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet (cast-iron is ideal), heat about ¼ inch of oil over high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Drop ¼ cup of the batter into the pan, and flatten with a spatula. Repeat with more batter, cooking no more than 4 or 5 latkes at a time; crowding the pan will give you soggy latkes.

Regulate the heat carefully, reducing it to medium as the latkes fry until golden and crisp on the bottom, about 4 minutes. To prevent oil from splattering, use two spatulas (or a spatula and a large spoon) to turn the latkes carefully. Fry until crisp and golden on the other side.

It’s best to flip the latkes only once, so that they don’t absorb too much oil. So, before turning, lift the latkes slightly with the spatula to make sure the underside is crisp and brown.

As the latkes are done, transfer them to paper towels or untreated brown paper bags to drain.

Continue making latkes in the same manner until all the batter is used. If necessary, add more oil to the pan, but always allow the oil to get hot before frying a new batch.

Serve straightaway, accompanied by applesauce or sour cream. If it is necessary to keep the latkes warm, place them in a single layer on a rack set on a baking sheet in a slow oven (200 F) until they are all ready to be brought to the table.

Cook’s note: For galettes a l’oignon et pomme de terre — the addictive onion and potato pancakes sold at the Sunday organic market in Paris — follow the above recipe, but increase onion to ¾ lb, replace matzoh meal with about 2 Tablespoons grated cheese (such as Parmesan), and decrease salt if necessary, according to saltiness of cheese. Before serving, sprinkle with coarse salt.