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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Latkes!

I love Hanukkah. It comes at a time of year when I am craving something something hot and crispy-fried, and of course gives me an excuse to indulge.

Baked is not the same. It's the miracle of the oil.

For the last couple of years I have made potato pancakes mostly per Laurie Colwin's recipe. The only big difference is how I prep the potatoes, and the amount of matzo meal I put in. (I add more if the batter starts getting runny.)

Crispy Goodness

I don't know why I try to lay in the traditional accompaniments in. This year I had a brisket (cooked as pot roast even ... more on that later), apples from which I could have made apple sauce, salmon in the freezer, and sour cream. I ate the latkes plain, mostly while waiting for the rest of them to fry up. The remainder (this does make a fair amount) I ate the next day, also plain but hot from the frying pan.

Laurie Colwin's Latkes

Peel five medium Idaho (russet) potatoes and hold in cold, acidulated water. (Not for long.)

Peel one medium yellow onion.

Cut the potatoes and onion in chunks and either grate or chop in the food processor. Colwin said blender, but hers must have been more powerful than mine. Small chunks of potato are fine, but nothing should be bigger than about a fingernail.

Mix to a batter with one egg, at least one tablespoon matzo meal or flour, and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder dissolved in a teaspoon of water.

If the batter seems runny, add more matzo.

Heat some fat in a good cast iron skillet. Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) is traditional but I use olive oil and/or vegetable oil.

When the fat is hot enough to fry a piece of bread, get busy (raw potato anything does not hold). I like about a tablespoon of batter per pancake. Fry till golden on both sides. Don't even think of turning them before the edges are crispy brown on the first side.

Replenish the oil as necessary. I also found that the batter got watery later on, and mixed another spoonful of matzo meal in.

Drain on paper towels and hold on a platter in a hot oven. Or, you can do what I do to reheat them ... refry.




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