It had been years since I’d had a good latke. That changed this weekend when my my friend said, “Come over for brunch. I’m making latkes.” I couldn’t get out the door fast enough.
After her divine latkes, I didn’t even wait a full 24 hours until I resurrected a recipe I mostly remember being taught more than 20 years ago. I was working at my first post-college job as a newspaper reporter. The office clerk was Jewish and insisted on bringing me a pile of fried latkes and doughnuts as a thank you for writing a story about Hanukkah.
Fried food when I was an impressionable 22-year-old was more valuable than cold, hard cash. There was no way I would have turned down those treats, and I knew she wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Vida was her name, and she was known for having a bit of a sassy attitude. I think she liked the fact I could keep up and sass right back.
This is my simplified version of a traditional latke recipe that will result in crispy, fried pancakes in less than half an hour. I think they would make Vida proud.
- 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
- 1/2 yellow onion, peeled
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil (plus more, if needed)
- Sour cream and applesauce for serving
Scrub and rinse potatoes, leaving skins on. Using a box grater or food processor to shred potatoes and set aside. Shred 1/2 yellow onion and add to potatoes in cheesecloth or paper towels.
Wring out excess water over a large bowl, removing as much moisture as possible. Pour liquid from bowl, maintaining the potato starch from the bottom of the bowl. Add potato and onion shreds to the bowl with starch.
Stir in egg, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Use your hands, if needed, to incorporate the ingredients until well combined.
In a large skillet over high heat, add vegetable oil. Once oil is hot, drop latke mix in using a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Smash down with a fork or fish spatula. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes per side, until extra crispy.
Transfer latkes to a cooling rack over a sheet pan and keep warm in oven preheated to 200 degrees while you continue to fry the remaining latkes. Serve warm with sour cream and applesauce.