Oh, how I love potato pancakes for Hanukkah. But oh, how I can't stand making them. To be totally honest, there is not one part of making potato pancakes that I enjoy. Oy! Did I just say that out loud?? I don't like peeling or grating potatoes and I don't like the sticky, starchy liquid that comes out of them. I know the symbolism behind frying the pancakes in oil, I get it. Huge part of the celebration. But I loathe frying. No matter what I do or how careful I am, my entire kitchen becomes a slippery, greasy, oil slick. And then there's the matter of the whole house smelling like oil for a week afterwards.
There are a ton of potato pancake recipes out there, and plenty of people like to jazz them up with interesting ingredients and different flavors, but I am a purest. For Hanukkah, I want a simple potato pancake drenched in sour gream...nothing unexpected. I've had friends ask for my recipe in the past, so I thought this would be a great time to put it out there....along with helpful tips for making your potato pancakes the best they can be. As I mentioned a few posts back, I'm come from a mixed-faith family, so this recipe actually comes from my Catholic, eastern-European roots...Poland or Lithuania if you're curious. It's a forgiving recipe, so feel free to tweak as your heart desires....I usually double this and still don't have enough. :)
2 eggs, beaten
3 C. grated, drained potatoes
4 T. grated onion
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 T. matzah meal
lots o' oil
1. Use a food processor to grate your potatoes...makes it so much easier. Unless you feel the need to up your martyrdom...and who doesn't?...then feel free to grate by hand.
2. DRAIN YOUR POTATOES. Most important step in the recipe. After you grate your potatoes, wrap them up in a tea towel or large cloth napkin (your least favorite one, because it will end up stained) and squeeze them like your life depends on it. Just plop the potatoes in the center of the towel, draw up the four corners and twist to wring every last drop of water out of those potatoes. Too much moisture prevents your latkes from browning up properly....and after all the trouble you've endured to make these, heaven forbid they don't brown up properly.
3. After your have drained your potatoes, add the eggs, onion, salt, pepper and matzah meal. Mix it all up and use right away. Keep the mixture covered with a damp towel between batches, to prevent the potatoes from turning brown.
* Make sure your oil is really hot before you start...pancakes that sit in warm oil will simply absorb it, creating a greasy, soggy pancake.
* Try tossing a few pieces of potato into the oil to test the temp...they should sizzle up on contact.
* When you're sure the oil is hot enough to leave a burn mark on your arm, the oil is hot enough to start dropping spoonfuls of batter into the oil. I like to smash them down into the pancake shape as soon as they hit the pan.
* Don't crowd the pan or the steam will mess up the frying process...
* Use a cast iron pan if you can...I swear by them for even heating and they never burn.
* Keep your pancakes warm in the oven until you are ready to serve with heaping dallops of sour cream or apple sauce.
So, are you totally excited to go make some perfect potato pancakes now??? Did I sell ya on this one?? LOL. Seriously, I really don't like making them, but I love eating them and if I don't make them, no one else will. I just look forward to the day when my daughter takes over and I can revert to my child-like ways of sitting back and watching while someone else makes them.
These go great, by the way, with my 3-ingredient brisket which I shared in my last post. Let me know if you make some and we can compare cooking injuries! Don't forget to come back tomorrow for Day 4 of my Handmade Hanukkah series....we're going to play with our food and make some easy Hanukkah bentos. XOXO, Cindi