Latke-making is an act of love. When else is cooking so closely joined to eating? The joy comes in handing the warm potato pancakes directly to plates held by outstretched arms, hovering as close to the stove as they are allowed.
Before the moment of glory, though, there is a little work to be done. It’s fairly simple when making latkes for a small group, and well worth the half-hour or so work. Grating the potatoes goes quickly if you have a food processor with a grating blade. If not, use the large holes on your box grater.
TIPS FOR EASY LATKES
- Peel the potatoes in advance, if you like. To prevent discoloration, place whole peeled potatoes in a big bowl of cold water.
- To make the mixture ahead, grate and peel the potatoes, combine with the flour, egg mixture, and refrigerate, covered. The mixture will turn slightly pink, but it will disappear when cooked.
- Grate the potatoes by hand or food processor — but don’t grate them too finely or your latkes may be heavy and dense
- Make the latkes a couple of hours ahead, if necessary, and reheat in a low (200 to 250 degree) oven.
- Maintain the oil temperature: When you put in a test strand of the potato, bubbles should immediately form around the edges. But you don’t want a dramatic spitting of oil — that indicated the oil is too hot. And if the bubbles that form around the potato are few in number or take their time, let the oil get a little hotter. Better still, you can use a thermometer: the oil should be 350 degrees.
2 pounds russet potatoes, coarsely grated
1 medium onion, grated
1 large egg
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1. Combine the potato and onion in a colander and let stand 20 minutes, occasionally pressing out the liquid with the back of a spoon. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the egg, flour, salt and pepper.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high. Use a 1/3-cup measure to scoop the mixture into the pan, immediately pressing down lightly with a spatula to form 3-inch discs. Cook about 3 to 3 1/2 minutes, until golden brown on the underside, before turning. Repeat on the second side, then transfer to a sheet pan lined with paper towel to drain. The latkes may be kept warm placed on the sheet pan in a single layer in a 200-degree oven. (If stacked, the latkes may get soggy.)