Latkes: Good to Great

Exquisite, crisp latkes require some attention to detail. Recipes are pretty much the same (potato-onion-egg-salt-touch of dry starch-oil). It's the technique that makes all the difference. Here are the moves, my friends.
  1. 1.
    Use russet potatoes.
    This is the driest and starchiest variety. You want dry and starchy.
  2. 2.
    Don't grate them too tiny.
    Use the largest holes on the grater, whether doing this by hand or w a food processor. You can grate the onions and potatoes together.
  3. 3.
    Dry the potatoes further.
    Squeeze the living daylights (or at least the extra moisture) out of them after they're grated. Can do this in cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer. Again, fine to include onion.
  4. 4.
    Use an appropriate oil.
    You want one w a high smoke point, which means you can get it really hot without it breaking down. My hands-down choice is Spectrum brand high-heat safflower oil. I sometimes also add coconut oil (nice, subtle flavor).
  5. 5.
    Think horizontal.
    Key to crispness: you need both pan-space and counter space. Everything (cooking, draining) should be done in a single layer to prevent sogginess. And maneuver the batter so it's thin in the pan, enabling the latkes to cook through. That part is très important.
  6. 6.
    Make sure the oil is hot before adding the taters.
    Taters gonna tate. Let them do so w an instant sizzle. Test the oil first by tossing in a strand or drop of batter. This should be a bingo on contact. But don't push the heating up process; let the oil get hot gradually over medium heat.
  7. 7.
    Have patience on all fronts.
    Let time, not fire, do the work. Keep the heat on medium - don't try to rush the process. Give each side of each latke a good, long chance to cook and brown. Enjoy the process; keep things casual. Open a bottle of hard cider to enjoy while waiting.
  8. 8.
    Drain on a thick pile of paper towels - single layer!
    No stacking. Ever.
  9. 9.
    Sprinkle w a little extra salt while they drain.
    Exponential effect.
  10. 10.
    Oven storage okay if needed.
    If you don't want to serve as you go, you can keep the latkes warm without compromising the above-achieved brilliance. Store unstacked on a rack positioned on a tray in a 250 degree oven. Up to an hour okay.