Potato Pancakes – AKA Latkes

When someone suggested they were really like hash browns, I chased him with a cast iron frying pan! No way! These crisp and tender delicacies may have different names in different places, but their origin is peasant food in Eastern Europe and has become a favorite the world over. Traditionally served with sour cream and/or applesauce, I eat mine with a sprinkle of plain sugar on top. (Don’t laugh….try it!)

You can fancy it up with Creme Fraiche and caviar, make it southwestern with Salsa, but I think it’s really at it’s best just the way it’s made….hot and a little oily, right out of the fry pan. You can make them in advance and freeze them, then reheat in the oven (they won’t be as crispy unless you refry them when defrosted, just before you serve them); or make them and keep them warm in a 250 oven while you continue to fry more. Me? I slap them on the plate and let everyone eat their fill with their choice of topping….then, I make more just for me! Pass the sugar, please!

Potato Pancakes – Latkes

  • 4 Medium Russet potatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 eggs, beaten slightly
  • 3 Tbsp. flour (or 1-1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • Olive oil or peanut oil for frying

Peel potatoes & place in cold water to keep them from turning brown. Peel onion and cut in chunks. In large bowl, grate potatoes on the large side of a box grater or using the large grating disk of the food processor.  Put grated potatoes into a colander and rinse with running cold water to remove the starch. Shake out as much water as possible when water runs clear. Grate the onion and add to the potatoes and mix. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible (you can use a lint-free towel or pillow case or salad spinner to do this.) Add beaten eggs, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix thoroughly.

Heat oil until it is hot but not smoking (about 375) in a heavy frying pan (cast iron is best). Drop 1 shred of potato into the hot oil. If it sizzles immediately, the oil is ready; if not, wait until you can drop a shred in and it sizzles. Scoop 1/4 cup of the potato mixture into the oil and gently pat the top down. Let it fry for about a minute before adding the next one, continuing until pan is full without crowding. After about 3-4 minutes, check the first latke by lifting it up slightly with a spatula. If it is golden brown, gently turn it over. If not, let it continue to fry a little longer. (Note: Turn only once.) When all have been turned and cooked to golden on both sides, remove one at a time, letting oil drip back into pan, and drain briefly on paper towels. Serve immediately or place on rack lined baking sheet and place in preheated 250 oven. Let oil come back to cooking temperature before making the next batch. Continue until all latkes are cooked.

(If you are using large potatoes, increase to 4 eggs. If mixture seems too wet as it stands while you are cooking them, you can pour out the extra liquid.)

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