I had made proper latkes before, but I was looking for the perfect potato pancake. The first stop in my quest, was what is the right kind of potato? I generally found 2 answers: Yukon Gold or Russet. I found this perplexing, as these potatoes have entirely different starch content. One recommendation I found was that if Russets are used, the latkes would be crispier. Usually my lakes are flavorful, but a bit soggy, so Russets were the way to go.
I used a recipe from My Fudo to nail down a technique, but the ingredients are based on what I've always used and include panko breadcrumbs rather than just flour. The technique they've developed is a winner--these are the most perfectly textured latkes I have ever eaten.
Latkes (serves 4-6)
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and placed in a bowl of cold water
- 1 onion, grated, with moisture squeezed out with paper towel/tea towel
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 C AP flour
- 1/2 C panko bread crumbs
- 1/3 C finely chopped parsley
- seasoned salt, to taste
- generous amount of black pepper, to taste
- canola oil, for frying
2. Prepare a large bowl of cold water. Begin grating the potatoes to a medium shred and place the shredded potatoes into the cold water. Once all of the potatoes have been shredded, allow to sit for 5 mins. Place the potatoes in a colander and rinse with cold water. Squeeze any extra moisture out of the potatoes with paper towels or a clean tea towel, or put them through several spins in a salad spinner.
3. In a large bowl, combine the grated potatoes, onion, beaten eggs, flour, panko, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Mix until well combined.
4. In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, pour canola oil to a depth of about 1/2 in. Heat on medium-high heat. When a single shred of potato sizzles on contact with the oil, the oil is ready.
5. Form the potato mixture into 2-inch pancakes with your hands. Carefully add a few to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Check frequently, and flip when golden brown on the bottom, cook a few more mins until brown on both sides.
6. Carefully remove the latkes from the oil and allow to blot on the sheet/plate with the paper towels. Quickly remove the pancakes from the plate and allow to warm in the oven. Serve warm with sour cream.
Kitchen Notes: I added the step of extracting extra moisture from the potatoes and onions, because it has always been my understanding that the drier the item to be fried, the lighter and crispier the texture, and this seemed to work for me.
Verdict? The texture of these latkes was incredible. They were perfectly crispy and light as a feather, I was incredibly impressed. They also soak up almost zero oil--I used the same single sheet of paper towel for the entire batch and it was not saturated at all. These are a lot of work, but well worth it!
Happy New Year Everyone!