Perfectly Crispy Potato Pancakes {Latkes}

Hanukkah was over a month ago, but it's always a good time for latkes. I make them once a year, every year, and always promise myself I'll make them more often, but it never happens. Which is a good thing, in some ways, as they're completely addictive and you can't eat just one. I have a rule when I make latkes - a taste testing rule. The first 3 latkes in the pan are the test batch. Therefore, one of the test batch latkes must be taste tested (with sour cream, of course) before I continue and fry the rest of the latkes. Then halfway through the entire batch of latkes another latke must be tested (with sour cream) - just to be sure that the oil is still hot enough and the latkes are crispy enough. Assuming all is well, the rest of the latkes are fried and set to drain on paper towels. But at that point I need to sit down and really taste test another one - after all, I just finished cooking so shouldn't I reward myself with a latke? So by now I'm 3 latkes in and we haven't even sat down to dinner yet. 

In any case, I've been making latkes since I was a wee little one - it's been a holiday tradition for as long as I can remember. And my family has been through so many latke recipes I don't even remember half of them - at one point we used the box mix but added our own potatoes, then we went the all-potato route but used yukon gold, then we tried russets, etc. After many experiments with many varieties of potato and many methods of cooking, as well as plenty of arm-hair burned off in the process (man that oil is HOT), I've finally happened on my perfect latke recipe. I discovered this recipe/method 3 years ago and I've been making them the same way ever since - they never disappoint. They're perfectly crispy, with a crunchy, salty exterior and a hot, creamy inside. They're not too big, they're not greasy, and when topped with sour cream they probably rate up there as one of my all-time favorite foods. So without further ado - perfectly crispy latkes. 

 

One of the most important things about this recipe - the type of potato. Use Russet potatoes - they're the starchiest potatoes of the bunch, and result in a crispy, creamy latke. 

Perfectly Crispy Potato Pancakes {Latkes}

makes about 2 dozen small latkes

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs Russet potatoes (sometimes called baking potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped onion 
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Canola or vegetable oil for frying
  • sour cream
  • applesauce
  • kosher salt for sprinkling

Instructions:

  • If you're serving these immediately, preheat your oven to 250 degrees and set a cooling rack into a rimmed baking sheet. If not, see notes below on how to make these in advance and still end up with a crispy, perfect latke!
  • Fill a large bowl with cold water and set aside. Peel potatoes and grate by hand with a box grater on the largest grating hole - you want these coarsely shredded. Transfer the shredded potato to the bowl of cold water as you go. Soak the shredded potatoes for about 2 minutes after the last batch is added to the water, then drain well in a colander.
  • Lay a clean kitchen towel on the counter, and spread the potatoes and onion onto the towel. Roll the towel up tightly jelly-roll style; twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer the potato mixture to a large bowl (I just wipe out the original bowl that the potatoes soaked in - wipe it out with a paper towel so it's dry) and stir in the egg and salt. 
  • In a large, deep saute pan, heat about 1/4" of oil over medium to medium-high heat until 350 degrees (use an instant read thermometer). Working in batches of 4 latkes, spoon really heaping tablespoons (so about 2 Tbsp each) of potato mixture per latke into the skillet, smushing down the potato mixture into a disc with the back of the spoon (or use a fork). Have one of those oil splash guard thingies handy - this can get messy. Cook the latkes until the undersides are golden brown and crisp, about 3 1/2 minutes. Gently turn the latkes over and continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes, until other side is golden brown. Use a slotted spatula to transfer the latkes to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with kosher salt. 
  • Add more oil to the skillet as needed and maintain the oil at 350 degrees. Repeat with remaining potato mixture. Keep the latkes warm by transferring them to prepared baking sheet in oven. 
  • Serve hot with sour cream and applesauce.

If you're not serving the latkes right away (and I never do), here are a few tricks to keep them hot, crispy, and perfect until you want to serve them!

  • If you're making the latkes in the afternoon and want to serve them that same evening, you can let the latkes cool and then loosely cover them with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Reheat on a hot baking sheet in a 375 degree oven for about 5 minutes on each side.
  • If you're making the latkes up to 8 hours in advance, you can cool the latkes and then refrigerate; reheat as described above, on a hot baking sheet in a 375 degree oven for about 5 mintues on each side. 

 

 

Find similar recipes at Feastie:

Potato Latkes from Brown Eyed Baker
Potato Latkes from Baked Bree
Hanukkah Collection: Mini Red Potato Latkes, Gluten Free from Gluten Free Canteen
Strictly Speaking Non-Traditional Sweet Potato Latkes from SippitySup
Thanksgivukkah Day 3 Fancy Latkes With Caviar from Sweet Paul

Comments

Perfect crispy potato pancakes. I made this without adding eggs but it came out very well and taste so good.

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