Fry, baby, fry!

This year I thought I was home free; we went to a Chanukah party last Tuesday, ingested our fill of latkes and homemade donuts, lit candles and had a grand time. I thought the fried part of the holiday was over.

Then our friend Patricia in Westcliffe invited us over for matzoh ball soup and a roast and out of my mouth, before I could choke back the words, popped the offer: We could make latkes!

Take a spin over to Epicurious and look at the recipes. They sound so benign, beginning as they do with a pound of potatoes. A pound of potatoes?! The first time Mitch and I made latkes, we started with a 10 lb. bag.

We’re not big fryers over here. So if grease goes into a pan, we’re going to make it count. In other words, if we're going to slop up the kitchen, we're going to produce a bumper crop of toasty taters. Besides, people luuurve them. You give someone a latke, you make a friend. No doubt Mahmoud Abbas would have been even more willing to shake hands with the Israeli leader, if Olmert had presented him with a package of Mrs. O’s latkes.

And forget recipes. I follow my MIL—Mama Gerber’s dictum—the golden mean, the ideal ratio for the perfect latke—one onion to every three potatoes, one egg, salt and pepper to taste, and my own enhancement...about three heaping tablespoons of flour.

There are two schools of thought regarding latkes, Shredders and Puree-ers. Having made both, I find peace in the middle path, but for ease of frying often lean toward the way of the Puree-er, the Shredders’ road being a rocky and difficult journey toward adhesion—how to get those disparate pieces of potato and onion to cling together as a single pancake?

Lacking a food processor at the ranch, we employed a “magic slicer” in production—one of those as-seen-on-TV devices that slices, dices and makes great julienne fries. After about three hearty cranks, the “magic slicer” all but disintegrated, but smished the potato-onion mix into small enough bits to blend.

Given that there was no canola oil at The Temple, tradition dictates the use of olive, but we canolaed ours. Mitch manned the skillets. (In his salad days, he worked at TGI Friday’s and was known as the fry bitch.) I readied the batter. The key is to fry on one side until the pancake is brown and crispy on the edges and then carefully flip, releasing the latke back into the oil gently. This is a two-handed process. The technique comes with practice and time.

Mitch made some very pretty latkes, perfect plump little ovals of fried starchy flesh, crusty and golden brown. As soon as we finished about five pounds of potatoes and de-greased the kitchen, Patricia called to let us know the party was all but cancelled due to snow.

We have a lot of latkes.


Comments (3) -

December 10. 2007 01:56


You're welcome to mess up our kitchen with latkes any time.  We all love them.  Blessed holiday to you and yours.

Diana |

December 10. 2007 07:15


Dang, and I'm an hour of nasty traffic away. LOVE latkes, even if they're pureed (we're shredders).

Deborah Robson |

December 10. 2007 23:10


Mmmmm, latkes!  Yumyumyum . . . you are welcome to send any surplus over here!  My grandma was a shredder, and her adhesion secret was ground-up matzoh instead of flour. Ah, I wish my husband were a latke-lover . . .

chris |

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