Latke Trials: My Search For the Ultimate Latke

I have decided to run latke experiments this Chanukah, for the betterment of mankind.  Out of the goodness of my heart, I will suffer through plate after plate of latkes this week.  I know, it’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.  I will take one for the team here.

UPDATE: After just finishing this post, I really want to stress to you the importance of trying my third latke recipe at the end.  It was the best, IMHO…and my family agreed.

Latke Trial 1:

I normally make the shredded latke, so I opted to do something a tad different here.  I wanted to make the creamy centered, crisp lacey edged variety of latke that some of my friends make.  I opted to try to bind them with my usual eggs and to try rice flour in lieu of my usual all-purpose flour or matzo meal.  I really enjoyed the results, but I will add a bit of baking powder just to lighten them a bit on my next trial.

Pro: gluten free, easy to make, no annoying grating, quick clean up, crisp Lacey texture, creamy center, perfect round shape.

Cons:  my family missed their usual shreds, slightly dense center texture when not perfectly fresh out of the oil.

Latke Trials Latke 1 in the mixing bowl

Latke Trials Latke 1 in the pan

Latke Trials Latke 1 ready to serve

Lacey Latkes (Gluten Free)

  • 2 medium-large Russet potatoes
  • 1 medium onion (white or yellow, non-sweet variety)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Vegetable or canola oil for frying

Cut potatoes and onion into small pieces.  Pulse many times in a food processor until the texture of thick applesauce.  Add the eggs, rice flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.  Pulse to combine.

Heat a large skillet (or 2, like I do) over medium heat with about 1/4 inch of oil.  When oil is hot, add spoonfuls of the batter to the hot oil, leaving about an inch between latkes.  Wait until edges are a deep golden brown to flip.  Flip and remove to drain on paper towels when browned on both sides.  Keep warm in a 250 degree oven until ready to serve.  Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce.

Latke Trial 2:

Okay, night two, and all the surfaces in my kitchen have the subtle, sticky sheen of oil upon them. Oy vey! Time to recap my second experiment. I thought these were pretty delicious, but my daughter was appalled that I put a little bit of scallion in them, because G-d forbid she consume anything green. So help me.

The idea behind these latkes was to combine the first latke for the creamy center, but to add some shreds for texture. I became consumed with the idea that the shreds would not cook in the center, so I opted to make them very fine shreds. This might have been a mistake, because they were not much different than the first ones, though definitely a slight improvement.

I shredded one potato on a microplane style fine grater.

Latke Trial 2 Micro Shredded potatoes

Then I made my purée of potato, onion, egg, rice flour, baking powder and salt.  I added about 1/2 tablespoon of A-P flour, because I just can’t leave well enough alone….

Latke Trial 2 Ingredients

I dropped in some pepper and sliced scallions this time, but never again…It lead to what I now call “Scallion-gate”.  We will never speak of it hence forth.

Mixed the shreds with the puree and fried the babies up.  Eureka!

Latke Trial 2 ready to serve

I really loved these!  My son was totally into them.  My hubby is totally over the latke experiment, as it is ruining his low-carb diet.  Oops!  Finally, my daughter took one bite, saw green, and freaked the hell out.  So, mixed reviews…

Crisp and Creamy Latkes

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 large cooking onion
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup rice flour or AP flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon All Purpose flour (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (if you dare)
  • oil for frying- I used vegetable oil

Cut 1 potato and onion into smaller pieces.  Place pieces in blender (if you have a vitamix) or food processor.  Blend into puree with egg, salt, baking powder, flours.  Pour into a bowl and fold in pepper and scallions.

Grate remaining potato with a medium microplane grater.  It will take a while-sorry! Next, mix potato shreds into the puree mixture.

Heat oil over medium to medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Drop around a tablespoon into the hot oil to form latkes, being careful not to crowd the pan.  Flip when edges become a deep golden brown.  When both sides are completely brown, remove latkes to drain on paper towels.  Keep warm in a 250 degree oven, if not serving immediately.  Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce.

On deck is my classic shredded recipe, but I think I want to play with a small amount of the puree still.  I can’t give up the idea of mixing…

Latke Trial 3:

The shredded, but with a twist.  These are a tad more involved than my usual shredded potato latke.  I am trying to combine both types of latkes, plus add some bread crumbs (because I don’t happen to have matzo meal on hand). I read an article yesterday about how using flour creates a gummy texture, and how matzo meal is the way to go.  It supposedly binds without becoming mush.  I am deciding to substitute bread crumbs, because A. I am not a fan of matzo meal and B. I think it should have the same effect.

I decided to split the difference with the shreds vs. puree.  I am puree-ing 1/2 of one potato and 1/2 of the onion with the regular blade in my food processor for these.  Then, I switched the blade and shredded the rest of the potatoes (1 1/2).  I then decided to chop the remaining 1/2 onion for texture and more of an onion hit.

Latke Trial 3 shredded potaotes

Then I added 1/4 cup bread crumbs,1/2 teaspoon baking powder,  1 tablespoon potato starch, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1 whole egg, plus 1 egg white.

Latke Trial 3 in the frying pan

I decided to do three things differently during frying.  1.  I used about double the oil to ensure complete 360 degree crispness.  2. I made them a bit thicker than usual.  3. I resisted the urge to press them down.

Perfection In Latke Form

Latke Trial 3 ready to serve

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-large russet potatoes, do not peel
  • 1 large cooking onion
  • 1 whole egg and 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs, matzo meal, or cracker meal
  • 1 tablespoon potato starch
  • Canola or vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, puree 1/2 of 1 potato and 1/2 onion until the texture of thick apple sauce.  
  2. Switch blades to the shredder disk.  
  3. Shred remaining 1 1/2 potatoes.  
  4. Chop remaining onion.  
  5. Put everything into a large mixing bowl.  
  6. Add egg and egg white, salt, pepper, baking powder, bread crumbs, and potato starch.  
  7. Stir well.  
  8. As mixture sits, liquid will collect. Just stir liquid back into mixture before scooping for latkes.
  9. Heat 1/2 inch oil to 360-375 degrees in a large skillet.  
  10. Scoop about 3 tablespoons latke mixture into oil.  
  11. Do not press down (can gently flatten just the top a bit).  
  12. Let cook until the edges turn a deep golden brown.  
  13. Flip and cook on the other side until browned and crisp all around.  
  14. Drain on paper towels.
  15. Serve immediately with apple sauce and/or sour cream.
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*Just finished eating these, and they were literally the best latkes ever!  I am pretty sure I just revolutionized my latke technique for life.  Try them and let me know what you think.

P.S.  I know some of you like to hand grate, but I actually think that the food processor does a better job and comes out crispier with less damage to the potato shreds’ cellular integrity (that sounds so scientific- not even sure if it is a thing).  Feel free to do this recipe with a hand grater, if desired.

P.P.S.  I also realized that the latke style you grew up with will always be your favorite.  There is a certain comfort food nostalgia that latkes bring about in people.  I am pretty sure that there are as many perfect latkes as there are Jewish people in the world, and that is just the way it should be.  Happy frying!

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