Recipe courtesy of The Pastrami Project

Traditional Potato Latkes

This recipe has won me many awards. It is nearly foolproof and will bring a smile to even the most skeptical person.
  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 50 min
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 12 to 15 latkes
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Ingredients

One 30-ounce bag frozen shredded potatoes, defrosted (see Cook's Note)

2 sheets unsalted matzo (see Cook's Note)

1 medium red onion, quartered 

2 eggs 

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Full-fat sour cream or unsweetened applesauce, for serving

Directions

Special equipment:
a food processor; disposable gloves
  1. Turn out the shredded potatoes into a large bowl.
  2. If you have an exhaust fan in your kitchen, turn it on and place the food processor underneath it--the smell from the processed onion will be very strong.
  3. Place the matzo in the food processor and pulse until you have a range of sizes, from 1/4-inch to nearly flour. Dump this onto the potatoes.
  4. Put the food processor back together and place the onion and the salt and pepper in the bowl. Process until nearly liquid, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. Add the eggs to the food processor and process until completely incorporated and the mixture turns almost white. Dump this onto the potatoes.
  6. Put on a pair of disposable gloves and mix everything together by hand. (If you don't use gloves, the onion smell will cling to your hands for a very long time.)
  7. Form the mixture into latkes: Take enough to fill the palm of your hand, then press your hands together hard, palm-to-palm, squeezing until some liquid comes out. You should end up with a disc that's thicker in the middle, like a flying saucer. Turn the disc around in your hands while patting the sides to firm it up. Give the latke one last squeeze--it's ready for the fryer. (When I make them, my latkes average 3 ounces each.)
  8. In a deep-fat fryer or heavy medium pot, heat several inches of oil to 375 degrees F.
  9. In batches, gently put the latkes into the hot oil and leave them alone to fry until golden brown, turning only once, about 4 minutes. The perfect latke will be golden brown and crispy on the outside, soft and white and warm on the inside. You can expect some shreds of potato to come loose; just scoop them out when the latkes are done. If a latke falls apart while frying, it's a sign you have to squeeze harder!
  10. Using tongs, remove the latkes from the oil; there is no need to drain. Serve hot, with a generous dollop of sour cream or apple sauce for dipping.

Cook’s Note

Using individually quick fozen (IQF) packaged shredded potatoes eliminates most problems with moisture. Resist the temptation to substitute breadcrumbs for the matzo. They aren't the same, and the taste, texture and appearance will change greatly. The latke mixture will keep in the refrigerator for several days, but be prepared: you'll have to squeeze the latkes even harder to get the water out.

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