Ever crave latkes on a Tuesday night?

11 Jan

Latkes.  Those potatoey, onioney, golden crisp rafts of loveliness.  Perfect for a generous dollop of sour cream, or use them as a platform for an entire meal.  They are worthy.

But what to do when Latkes ‘r’ Us is closed, you have half an hour till dinner needs to hit the table, and you really, really NEED some??  Simple.  Here’s a method to whip some up in a jiffy.

First off, keep that Cuisinart in the basement – no need for it today.  Save it for your high – volume Hannukah latke output next December.

Batter Equipment:  Box style grater, wooden spoon, tarnished silver implement (fork, spoon, whatever… it prevents the mix from browning before you cook it) and a sieve.

Ingredients:

Potatoes – 1 lb peeled baking type (russet is what I use), keep whole

Onions – 1 medium onion per lb of potato

Egg – 1 large

Matzo Meal – 1/4 – 1/2 cup

Salt – 1/2 tsp

Pepper – 1 generous grind

Optional:  Add chopped fresh herbs, dijon mustard, or split the potato mix – 2/3 baking with 1/3 sweet potato for something a little different.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250F.

Grate potatoes and onions on large side of box grater (doing this under a vent hood will help save your eyes) and sprinkle with salt.  Mix with tarnished silver utensil and set aside for a few minutes while you so something else.

Now return to your mix of potato and onion, and you may notice some juices being shed, collecting in the bottom of the bowl.  Handful by handful, scoop the mix into the sieve and press it with the back of a wooden spoon against the sides of the sieve until most of the potato water has been pressed out.  Reserve the pressed potato onion mix in a separate bowl, and once all of the mix has been squeezed out, add the egg, pepper, and additional seasonings as desired.

The batter at this stage will be too wet to fry well, so sprinkle in some Matzo Meal until the mix resembles muffin batter.  You may need to add more as you fry, and more water is pulled out of the potatoes while the mix is standing by.

Heat enough oil (I use canola) to cover a non-stick frying pan with 1/4″ oil.  Being generous with the oil is important, as it is the oil that really creates that delicious crispy crust.  No one said this food was low cal…

Once the oil is almost smoking, use a large spoon or ice cream scoop to deposit roughly equally sized piles of batter in pan.  Large or small, it’s up to you.  Press the tops of the piles with a spatula until roughly 3/4″ high.

**Note – the higher sugar content of sweet potatoes will cause them to brown very fast.  Be careful not to burn them, and remove as soon as they are golden.  They can finish cooking in the oven

Fry latkes until golden on each side, and place on a parchment covered baking sheet in the oven while you finish.

Serve with sour cream, apple sauce, or a spicy chutney.  Latkes can be very simple, or a blank canvas – serving as a platorm for whatever culinary masterpiece you are inspired to create.  Some suggestions:

Substitute tiny latkes for blini with caviar and creme fraiche

Latkes can serve as a base for stacking – stack wilted spinach or sauteed vegetable mix and some braised beef on top (brisket perchance?!) and dress the plate with horseradish gravy (mix grated horseradish into defatted pan drippings and season and thicken to your liking)

Latke ‘pizzas’ – throw them under a broiler with a melting cheese (cheddar, swiss, raclette) and your favourite toppings until melted.  I like mushrooms, fresh sage, and havarti cheese.  Serve with soup.

Full Disclosure:  Latke making is fun, and ultimately very rewarding.  HOWEVER, your house may smell of latkes for 1-2 days post frying… so open the windows and for goodness sake, use your range hood!

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