Makes 20 silver dollar-sized pancakes.
Cut the potatoes into quarters and place in a bowl of cool water to prevent them from browning.
Whisk the flour, eggs, salt and pepper together in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
Grate the potatoes using a fine or small grating disk in a food processor, alternating with the onion. Finely grating the potatoes and onion is key to this recipe.
Pour the potato and onion mixture into the flour mixture, then mix thoroughly. I use my hands. The batter will be soupy, which is OK. There is no need to drain it. The watery batter is what gives the latkes their crispy edges.
Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium heat until a bit of latke batter sizzles when it is dropped into the oil. Do not let the oil start to smoke—you want it to shimmer only.
Using a large slotted spoon, pick up about 3 tablespoons of the latke batter, allow it to drain slightly, then gently drop it into the hot oil. Fry until the edges are brown and crispy. Remove with tongs or slotted spoon and allow the pancakes to drain on paper towels or a paper bag.
Serve warm with a spoonful of applesauce* and sour cream on top.
About this recipe
Tastes of Holidays Past and Present
I love this time of year because it evokes a warm, happy, cozy feeling for me. I know it does for many others, as well. It is a sentimental time, bringing back memories of holidays past—days shared with friends and loved ones, often eating special foods and treats.
For some, it’s the smell of cinnamon or pine-scented boughs that evokes these feelings. For me, the smell of frying potatoes jets me right back to my childhood. In my family, we fry potato pancakes or latkes (pronounced “LOT-kuhs” or “LOT-keys”) and doughnuts in celebration of the Jewish holiday Chanukah or Hanukkah.
Chanukah, also known as the Festival of Lights, honors a story found in the Talmud about the time when sacred oil was needed to light the menorah (a special candelabrum) in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
There was only enough oil to burn for one day, but, miraculously, the menorah burned for eight days, until newly consecrated oil could be prepared.
Thus, the importance of oil in Chanukah celebrations. And foods fried in oil.
I do make a modern version of the traditional sugary cream- or jelly-filled deep-fried doughnuts called sufganiyot for Chanukah, but for me the star of the holiday table is the latke.
I developed this special latke recipe for my family. They come out fluffy in the center and crispy on the outside, just the way we like them! Many latkes are dense, more like a mashed potato cake. These are so good you will want to make them anytime, and even if you are not Jewish and celebrating the holidays. Kids love latkes, too.
Latke are best eaten warm, just as they come out of the oil, one batch after another!
Happy Holidays to you all!