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.
- •Use russet potatoes.This is the driest and starchiest variety. You want dry and starchy.
- •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.
- •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.
- •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).
- •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.
- •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.
- •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.
- •Drain on a thick pile of paper towels - single layer!No stacking. Ever.
- •Sprinkle w a little extra salt while they drain.Exponential effect.
- •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.