The origins of the latke, a fritter-like pancake dish made of potatoes, dates back to the Middle Ages, when Ashkenazi Jewish communities most likely made them with cheese curd or ricotta. When the potato arrived in eastern Europe during the 19th century, they became the go-to ingredient, as Jewish dietary laws prohibit the mixing of meat and dairy products (the most common frying fat back then was schmaltz, rendered goose or chicken fat).
Latkes are still served in celebration of Hanukkah, which begins on November 30 this year. If you are trying your hand at making them for the first time, or even if you are just looking to add an herby twist to your traditional method, this is a great recipe for cooking them at home.
Use fresh potatoes. It can be tempting to buy frozen hashbrowns for these and, while there are probably many recipes in which that would be fine, we don’t recommend making the substitution in this particular circumstance.
Trust your food processor. Let the machines do most of the mincing this time around. There is no way that you will be able to grate potatoes and onions as well as a Cuisinart.
Salt matters. There are two different measurements for salt here, one for coarse and one for fine. It’s really important to follow these instructions, as the salt content varies drastically depending on the size of the flake. Not sure what size you have? Check the box.
Get creative with the sauce. We put together a simple herb sauce for this recipe, but you could definitely put your own spin on it. Seasonal herbs such as sage and rosemary would also be delicious here (note: use minced fresh rosemary, not dried, for the best consistency).
Latkes With Herb SauceCourse: MainCuisine: EuropeanDifficulty: Medium
Recipe adapted from New York Times Cooking.
2 large Russet potatoes (about 1 pound), scrubbed and cut lengthwise into quarters
1 large onion (8 ounces), peeled and cut into quarters
2 large eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt), plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Safflower or other oil, for frying
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup chopped chives
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Using a food processor with a coarse grating disc, grate the potatoes and onion. Transfer the mixture to a clean dish towel and squeeze and wring out as much of the liquid as possible.
- Working quickly, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the eggs, flour, salt, baking powder and pepper, and mix until the flour is absorbed.
- In a medium heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, pour in about 1/4 inch of the oil. Once the oil is hot (a drop of batter placed in the pan should sizzle), use a heaping tablespoon to drop the batter into the hot pan, cooking in batches. Use a spatula to flatten and shape the drops into discs. When the edges of the latkes are brown and crispy, about 5 minutes, flip. Cook until the second side is deeply browned, about another 5 minutes. Transfer the latkes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and sprinkle with salt while still warm. Repeat with the remaining batter.
- Make the herb sauce: combine sour cream, chives, and parsley in a medium-sized bowl, and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Thin with water until desired consistency is reached.