Monday, December 18, 2006

the latke, 3 ways

this post is more a visual of latkes in its three forms rather than a collection of recipes. see my previous post (link below) for a large collection.

the elemental ingredients for traditional potato latkes are as follows:

potatoesmain ingredient
onion — seasoning ingredient
eggs — binding agent
salt, pepper (ginger, opt)seasoning agents
flour/matzo meal/*potato starchthickening/binding agent

in terms of exact amounts, that is always a issue for argument, especially amongst jewish cooks. one says this way, the other that way. i will leave that up to you but suggest reading the latkes, latkes & more latkes post and looking at the recipes there. if you are really desperate for measurements call bubby or you can certainly email me :-)

i will say the basic rule of thumb for me is 1 egg for every 2 medium-large potatoes, large grate, 1 small onion, NO FLOUR, salt & pepper to taste. multiply appropriately to feed the armies.

please note however that,
  • the onion is always done first so the potatoes do not oxidize;

  • i do use flour when i use the blender/pulp method but only a scant 1 tbsp due to its consistency;

  • i do not rinse the potatoes after grating as i feel the starch is essential for the "perfect" latke;

  • i always use a tea towel to drain the mixture to prevent loss of starch and to control how much moisture remains. i do this squeezing into a bowl and drain off the water. you will see there is *white starch at the bottom. do NOT get rid of this. mix it back into the potato mixture. try it, it really does work the best (& squeeze 'til your eyes bulge!);

  • i always make one and taste it before continuing with the whole batch. nothing worse that a bad batch. taste and adjust what you need to.

the three methods —
grated knuckles or not!

the blender/pulp method:

this way results in a latke which is much finer in texture and some say, lighter. it reminds more of a pancake type latke.

the how to
  1. quarter your onion and put in blender or food processor;

  2. add cut up potatoes and blend/process until you have a pulpy mixture;

  3. add this mixture to a clean tea towel and squeeze into a bowl until no more water coming out. reserve the starch after pouring off the water;

  4. place this in a bowl and add your eggs, flour and seasonings. don't add too much flour or you'll get pancakes [you may not even need it]. mix well;

  5. fry in oil til browned.

the food processor way:

this method is very convenient for those how do not want grated knuckles and don't have the time or patience for the old fashioned method. all three kinds of textures are easily achieve with the food processor depending on whether or not you use the blade (for pulpy mixture) or the grater attachments.

the how to
  1. quarter the onion and with attachment, grate the onion;

  2. choose the size of grate you want for the potato and continue to process into the onion mixture. do this quickly;

  3. drain your mixture in a tea towel by squeezing into a bowl. drain off the water and keep the starch;

  4. add your eggs and seasoning with the potato and onion mix and stir well;

  5. fry til browned on both sides.

  6. medium grate (above)
    larger grate (below) — i find these the best of all 3 types

the box grater method:

the old fashioned way of our grandmothers, this was her food processor. need i say more? results in a latke which is said to be "sans comparaison". all choices for different textures are just a flip away. the only caveat to this way is: have band-aids close by, just in case! i still do it this way on occasion for nostalgia's sake.

the how to
  1. cut off one end (not the root end) and peel. this is to prevent it falling apart while grating it and to avoid fumes from the root end;

  2. grate the onion finely into a bowl;

  3. choose which grate you want for the potato and grate directly into the onion. give it a stir between potatoes to redistribute the onion to prevent oxidization (see picture as example of why you want to grate directly into the onions. yucky, huh?);

  4. place mixture in a teatowel and squeeze the water into a bowl. drain off the water and keep the starch;

  5. put potato mixture into the starch and add your eggs, seasonings, and flour if using. fry until golden.

after choosing your method, you will hopefully be rewarded with not only delicious but gorgeous latkes to wow family and friends. mostly they should wow you! but now, the biggest decision ever — sour cream or apple sauce? or maybe, just plain straight from the pan, blotted first, of course!

i like them any way i can get them!


Unknown said...

Why do you put the liquid you've squeezed out back into the mixture? I tried this method this year and my latkes were a hit (best ever, I think), but I chucked the liquid.

LOVE your blog! And I'm also a foodie from Toronto...

burekaboy — said...

lara - hi and welcome, first of all. in terms of the liquid, it is just that -- the liquid part is being thrown out and the starch retained and reincorporated. it is a very thick white "sludge" that will settle at the bottom of the bowl and is not watery. you can of course, dump the whole thing if wanted. the starch from the potato helps in a variety of ways, for both browning and cohesion. i am adding pictures to show what i mean. sorry for the confusion.

hope to see you again and i shall be paying you a vistit. happy hanukkah to you and yours. :) BB

Pamela said...

Hi Burekaboy,

Yuummmskie!! I will have to try these sometime! I made some herbed crab cakes for dinner on Sunday night, and even remembered to take a photo, so I will post it soon!

burekaboy — said...

pam - looking forward to seeing your creation. take pix of the latkes, too, if you ever end up making them :-)

Sharon Pickering said...

These look so good. I think I'm going for door #2 (food processor method). I'll let you know how they turn out. I am a pototo junkie! Any shape or form. :-)

Allergic Girl® said...

i didnt think your last latke post could be bested but boy was i soooo wrong--excellent exploration of the latke. happy sixth night.

burekaboy — said...

annie - lol...that would the correct door. your prize is behind door #2. enjoy them! i love potatoes, too!

hey allergic girl - LOL. neither did i. thank you! happy 6th to you, too!