There are almost as many different ways to make a potato latke as there are people to eat them. Some of it goes back to what you ate growing up, or a new method you’ve found, or any one of a number of variables.
However, at the core is a very simple formula – grated potatoes, onion, egg, some kind of starch, salt and pepper.
I personally believe that a latke has to have grated potatoes to be a latke – mashed or pureed potatoes are a potato pancake but not a latke, in my opinion, if that distinction makes sense.
Growing up, my mom always peeled her potatoes, and used the grate blade on her Cuisinart to shed the potatoes and onions. She would take everything out of the bowl, put in the steel blade, and process any big onion pieces. She would also lightly chop half or less of the potato sheds – the shorter pieces would help the mix hold together.
To me, this is still the ideal method. But sometimes it takes to long, especially if you’re doing a large quantity. Or if you don’t have a food processor.
In college, our Jewish group would make latkes every year for the students, feeding 50 to 100 people. As we were students and Cuisinart-less, we would] buy frozen shredded potatos (hashbrowns) to use as a short cut.
This year, I was asked to make the latkes for our religious school’s Chanukah celebration, and I remembered the short cut from my college years.
The one thing I remembered, other than using the hashbrowns, wad that it was very important for them to be fully defrosted before trying to make the latkes.
This year, somehow, that one step caused more problems than any other. The first day I tried to make them, I put the frozen hashbrowns in bowls in a warmer box that was at about 100 degrees F. And three hours later, they were still mostly frozen! The next time, I left the bags in the refrigerator for three days, thinking it would thaw them, but again I found them frozen.
Out of desperation, I figured out how to defrost them without losing all of the starch, and ended up figuring out a pretty good method for making them, with the one short cut.
These latkes taste great, just like they should, and got raves, second helpings, and requests for the recipe. Which is a success in my book!
- Two bags (1lb 14oz each) frozen shredded hashbrowns
- 1-1/3 to 2 pounds onion
- 6 eggs
- About 1/2 cup matzo meal (see note)
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Oil for frying