We have a very eclectic household and have come to embrace the family favorites of our Jewish friend Jonathan, who lives with us. Latkes are fried potato patties, traditionally served for Hanukkah. The first year Jonathan and I made them together, we didn’t have matzo meal. We used flour to hold the mixture together. It is simply not the same. Any store that carries matzo will carry matzo meal, although in a pinch you could make matzo meal from matzo crackers, in your food processor.
The oil is the secret to getting the latkes to fry up crispy. We use coconut oil. Peanut oil also withstands higher cooking temperatures, but may not be an option if you keep kosher. If you want that to-die-for crustiness, I don’t recommend using any oil that can’t withstand higher frying temperatures, such as olive oil or some generic vegetable oils.
I’m sure cooks of old grated everything in this dish with a hand grater, but we use a food processor to grate the potatoes and the onions. It takes a lot less time. It is not necessary to squeeze the water out of the grated potatoes when making latkes, but the amount of moisture in the potatoes will dictate how much matzoh meal you have to use to hold everything together, which is why the measurements are approximate.
8 large uncooked potatoes, peeled and grated
1 medium onion, grated
1 to 2 cups Matzo meal
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
Combine the grated onions, potatoes, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl, adding matzo meal in half cup increments until the mixture holds together.
Pour coconut oil into a large frying pan, to a depth of about 1 ½ inches. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until very hot.
Drop large spoonfuls of the latke mixture into the hot oil and flatten into a patty. Fry on each side until golden brown. Serve immediately, offering applesauce to garnish.
photo credit: Sam Felder via photopin cc