Latkes, otherwise known as potato pancakes, are a delicious holiday treat renowned for their soft centers, crunchy exteriors and for being delivery mechanisms for a wide variety of toppings. With the holiday season approaching, there’s no better time to dip your toes into the starchy waters and learn all there is to know about making everyone’s favorite tuber-based treat.
First, one of the best latke recipes I’ve found belongs to Smitten Kitchen. I’ve included the recipe here with my own alterations and additions. I’ve reduced the amount of salt while also adding some flavorful ingredients like dill and garlic. If you’re feeling traditional, just nix the dill and garlic from this recipe. Or, if dill and garlic just aren’t your thing, try some other spices!
Latkes are traditionally served with toppings like sour cream and roe, but there are plenty of alternatives. The simple addition of ketchup won’t necessarily spice up your latkes—because it’s ketchup—but the age-old combination can’t be ignored. A spicy aioli or Sriracha sauce can add a kick to your potato pancake.
If you’re looking to go absolutely crazy and try something completely different, try dipping your latkes in some sweet chili sauce. It might sound nuts, but an appropriately sweet sauce can counteract the greasy saltiness of the latkes. If all else fails, put an egg on it. My preference is poached, maybe with some hollandaise sauce.
Start by grating the potatoes and the onions and mixing them together. The easiest way to do this is in a food processor using the grater blade. If you don’t have a food processor you can use a handheld grater, but it’ll be slow going.
Remove the water from the potato and onion mixture. Place the mixture in cheesecloth and squeeze until water no longer runs. Let the mixture rest for a couple of minutes and squeeze again. (Note: if you don’t have cheesecloth, you can maybe use some strong paper towels. But that just sounds like a recipe for disaster, and this recipe is for latkes, so: reader beware.)
Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl. In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the batter, starting with the dry ingredients: the flour, salt, pepper and dill. Then gradually mix in the wet ingredients: the garlic and the beaten egg. Mix the batter thoroughly until it forms a paste. (Note: if you find yourself without fresh or pre-chopped garlic, you can substitute in a ½ teaspoon of dried, ground garlic powder, adding it with the dry ingredients.)
Heat a pan to medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil to it. While the pan is heating, add the batter mixture to the grated potatoes and onions and combine thoroughly. The pan should be fully heated by the time the two mixtures are fully incorporated.
Drop a dollop of latke mix into the pan, one tablespoon at a time. Spread the dollops into pancake shapes using a spatula. Check the undersides of the latkes frequently and flip when golden brown, usually every 3 or 4 minutes. The latkes are done when both sides are crisp and brown. Remove to plate with paper towels to drain the oil and serve immediately. Top with something extravagant and enjoy!