Potato Pancakes

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Potato pancakes (latkes) are small fried patties/pancakes that are ever so popular with Jews at Hanukah (Christmas) and Eastern Europeans and kids all year round. They are typically made using eggs, onions, grated potatoes and sometimes even a little flour. Simple to prepare and cook potato pancakes are a cheap food that has often been the fall back of many throughout the years whenever times get tough.

Potato Latke Ingredients

Here are the basic ingredients that you will need to make your potato pancakes (latkes):

2½ Pounds (1 Kg) of Russet or Delaware Potatoes, 2 Large Eggs, 1 Onion, 1 Vitamin C Tablet, 2 Tablespoons each of Hot Water and Matzo Meal, 1 Teaspoon Salt, ¼ Teaspoon each of Baking Powder and Garlic Powder, 1½ Pinches of Black Pepper and some vegetable for cooking, You may of course substitute olive oil if preferred.

Preparation

There are a number of preliminary processes that need to be carried out prior to commencing to make your potato pancake/latke batter mixture. Let’s start with the potatoes.

Preparing and Shredding the Potatoes

First up you will need to peel and wash your potatoes. Don’t worry about drying them off. It is now time to shred your potatoes.

If using a food processor to shred the potatoes begin by using the shredding blade that came with your appliance. Once this is done finish the job by using your food processor’s metal blade.

You also have the option to shred the potatoes manually. I find the best results are obtained using a four-sided variable cheese grater with different sized shredding holes on all sides. This allows me to create shredded potatoes that are a mixture of a variety of sizes widthwise, lengthwise and thickness. This approach adds to the sophistication textures of the potato pancakes (latkes) you produce.

Preparing and Shredding the Onion

This particular recipe calls for the use of shredded onions but there is no reason that you can’t use thinly sliced halved and separated onion rings. Peel, rinse and shred the onion using the same procedures as you did with the potatoes you have just finished shredding. Once the onion has been shredded add it to your shredded potatoes and stir to distribute the shredded onion evenly throughout your shredded potatoes.

Dissolving the Vitamin C Tablet

Place the vitamin C tablet into a medium sized stainless steel mixing bowl and use the back of a tablespoon to gently crush the vitamin C tablet. Although this step is not absolutely essential it does result in the vitamin C dissolving much quicker. Now add some nearly boiling hot water and stir continually until the vitamin C tablet is completely dissolved.

Preparing the Eggs

Add the contents of two large eggs to another stainless steel mixing bowl and beat lightly until they take on a homogenous texture and consistency.

Preparing the Final, Ready to Cook, Potato Pancake Batter Mix

  1. Select the bowl in which you wish to do the final mixing of all ingredients prior to cooking. Just remember that it will need to be able to hold your entire ready to go potato latke mix.
  2. Now blend all of the above ingredients (potato, onion, egg and vitamin C) while stirring to ensure that the ingredients are distributed evenly throughout the mix.
  3. Once done add the remaining ingredients (the matzo meal, salt, pepper, garlic powder and baking powder) remembering to stir as you do so.
  4. Continue stirring until all ingredients are well and truly distributed evenly throughout the mix/batter.

Cooking Instructions

  1. Pour about ¼ to ½ inches of oil into a large frying pan
  2. Heat frying pan over a medium to high heat setting
  3. Test to verify that the oil is now at the desired temperature. An easy way of performing such a test is to stick a wooden utensil (wooden stirring spoon) into the oil and seeing if bubbles form.
  4. Once the oil is up to the desired temperature it is time to start cooking something edible.
  5. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture into the hot oil.
  6. It is important to remember not to crowd the pan. You may also wish to flatten the latkes slightly with the back of the spoon
  7. Continue to fry the pancakes until they are golden brown on both sides, turning once
  8. Once each batch of latkes is cooked, move them onto paper towels to drain.
  9. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper

Serving Suggestions

The above recipe makes batches of potato pancakes/latkes containing from 18 to 24 individual pancakes/latkes. Potato pancakes/latkes can also be accompanied by applesauce, sour cream, ketchup, fried tomatoes and garlic as desired.

Steamed vegetables are another great accompaniment as is gravy. If you make extra potato pancake/latke batter then you can use it in combination with fried or poached eggs, bacon etc as a quick and simple breakfast the next morning.

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