The main thing I remember about my childhood Hanukkahs is my mother’s latkes. And not just the latkes themselves—as delicious as they were, crispy-fried, fresh from the frying pan—but also the image of my mother in the kitchen, first peeling and hand-grating (the food processor just doesn’t cut it here) piles of potatoes and then hunched over a pan of hot oil frying the little potato pancakes to a crispy golden brown. Every year she threatened not to make them, but every year, our whining and declarations of how she was the best mother/cook/latke-maker won out and, again, she’d spend an entire night toiling away in the kitchen while the rest of us enjoyed ourselves. No wonder my mother is not the biggest fan of Hanukkah, but her latke recipe really was worth it (to us, anyway).
I’ve tested a lot of latke recipes over the years, trying earnestly to find one that doesn’t require me to hand-grate pounds of potatoes or spend hours hunched over a pan of hot oil. In the end, I’ve decided that there really is no way to make a delicious latke that doesn’t involve spending a certain amount of time hunched over a pan of hot oil (not to mention, the whole point of the holiday is to celebrate the oil, right? Baking just won’t do). But before you take away my Lazy Gourmet ID card, I have learned one very important latke trick: you can spend a leisurely afternoon frying them ahead of time (days, weeks, probably even months!), freeze them, and reheat them the night of your Hanukkah celebration and—here’s the exciting part—they will still be crispy and delicious. Your guests will wonder if you have a hired latke maker toiling away behind the closed kitchen door.
As for the hand grating, I have a dirty little secret (cue Bubbe rolling over in grave): store-bought frozen hash brown potatoes (just be sure to check the ingredients and purchase the kind that contain nothing but potatoes or potatoes and dextrose—a sugar derived from potatoes—if you must).
With this super easy latke recipe, you can finally have your potato pancakes and eat them, too, right along with your guests!Print
Makes about 24 latkes.
You can make a gluten-free version by substituting gluten-free brown rice flour for the flour. You can also jazz up the recipe by adding thinly sliced scallions or substituting shredded sweet potatoes, parsnips, or apples for some (or all) of the potatoes.
- 3 pounds peeled, grated russet potatoes (thawed, if using frozen)
- 1/2 medium onion, grated
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons flour (or substitute gluten-free rice flour)
- Vegetable or peanut oil for frying
- Applesauce or sour cream, for serving
- Drain grated potatoes well, first in a colander, and then by wrapping in a double thickness of paper towels or a dishtowel and squeezing out as much of the water as you can.
- Place the drained potatoes and grated onion in a large bowl. Add the eggs and salt and stir to mix well.
- Sprinkle in the flour a little at a time, mixing after each addition to ensure that it is well distributed throughout the mixture.
- Fill a large, heavy skillet to a depth of about ½ inch with vegetable oil and heat over high heat until very hot.
- Drop the potato mixture into the oil about 2 tablespoons at a time and flatten with the back of the spoon into a disk about 3 inches across.
- Cook the latkes in the oil 4 at a time, reducing heat if necessary to keep them from burning. Cook about 3 or 4 minutes per side, until golden, then flip and cook about 3 or 4 minutes more until the second side is golden.
- Remove with a slotted spatula, allowing as much oil as possible to drip back into the pan, and drain on a double layer of paper towels.
- Serve them immediately, if you like, hot from the frying pan, or keep them hot in a warm oven until ready to serve.
- Serve hot with applesauce or sour cream.
Make It Ahead
- Place the cooked latkes on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze for several hours.
- Once frozen, transfer latkes to Ziploc freezer bags and freeze until ready to use.
- To heat, preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit and place latkes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, until hot.