I recently told my parents that they cursed me. The way I see it, when my (probable) Irish genes collided with my (definite) Eastern European genes, I was pre-destined to have a love affair with the potato.
My parents blush and look a little embarrassed when you ask them what my first un-coached word was. Not because it was uncouth, or racy, but because my first un-coached utterance was spoken as we drove past a Burger King. Ladies and gentleman, my first word was “fry”– as in french fry.
Now, my family isn’t really into fried foods. If we have a craving for french fries or onion rings, we go out to our favorite fast food joint or restaurant. We don’t ever fry anything at home; we leave it to the professionals. But, when I was growing up, come Hanukkah we’d open all the windows (a feat in the sometimes sub-zero Ohio winters), close the doors to the bedrooms, and my dad would spend several nights frying up latke after latke.
I love my dad’s latkes. As a child (and, maybe even as an adult) I would gobble them down, often leaving my mom’s brisket (also incredible) untouched. Eventually, we just started having latke-only dinners a few times each Hanukkah.
Everyone has “the perfect” latke recipe, so I won’t attempt to prove my family’s recipe is better than yours. I will, however, share a few of our latke tips with you”
– Do not peel your potatoes
– Salt the potatoes after grating them, let them sit for about 20
mintues, then squeeze as much of the water out as possible
– Grate your onions (juice and all) directly into your squeezed-out potatoes
– Use only a little matzo meal to bind the batter, don’t let the matzo
meal overcome the potatoey-ness
– Fry the latkes in corn oil
– After you fry, pat off excess oil with paper towels
– To keep warm and crispy, place latkes on cookie racks in a 250 degree oven
Rachel Korycan lives in Washington, D.C. and is a Development Coordinator at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
Want some additional tricks for making latkes? Check out this video that purports to give you foolproof latke tips.