July 12, 2012
Author: Leo Beckerman
Leo Beckerman, co-owner of the new and wildly popular Wise Sons Deli in San Francisco, recalls his favorite thing about hannukah– his mother’s latkes. It was as much an event as it was a meal (yes, latkes for dinner). After hours of hand grating potatoes on her grandmother’s latke grater, a tool used only during the festival of lights, everyone would gather in the kitchen. Round blobs of potato and onion went into the cast iron skillet and sizzled to delicious brown crispiness. From the frying pan they went right to the paper towel to remove excess oil, but they rarely made it farther than that. Once on the paper towel, a latke was fair game for eager family members willing to brave the intensely hot potato pancake. A quick dip in sour cream or applesauce and right to the tummy. These nights were celebrated standing up in the kitchen as latke after latke came out of the oil, until all had burned mouths and sated appetites.
3 lbs Russet potatoes
1 large Yellow onion
2 Whole Eggs Beat the eggs
1.5 Tablespoons Matzo meal
1 teaspoon Salt
.25 teaspoon black pepper
4 Cup(s)s Vegetable Oil for Frying
Cut half of the potatoes into quarters, then boil in salted water until soft, about 15–20 minutes. Drain and mash until smooth. Combine the mashed potato with the matzo meal or flour and set aside.
With a box grater or food processor with a grater attachment, grate the remaining potatoes and the onion and mix to combine. Using a piece of cheesecloth or a fine strainer, squeeze out any liquid from the grated potato–onion mixture, then transfer to a large bowl.
Add the egg, salt, pepper and mashed potatoes and stir well to combine. Form the mixture into patties, each approximately 3 inches in diameter by ¼ – ½ inches. Heat ½ inch of vegetable oil in a heavy frying pan over medium–high heat. When the oil is hot, add some of the latkes, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Cook until golden brown on one side, about 3–4 minutes (if they are browning too quickly, reduce the heat), then flip and cook until golden brown on the second side, about 2–3 minutes more.
Drain the latkes on paper towels, seasoning with salt while still hot. Repeat with remaining latkes until they’ve all been cooked. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.