Holidays · Side Dish

Jerusalem’s Latkes

Who knew there could be so many different ways to make these crispy, delicious pancakes?

Latkes

Over the years, I’ve tried quite a few latke recipes.  Some were family recipes, passed down through generations, while others came off clippings in Bon Appetit or the NY Times. Without taking sides, I’ve noted the following key points of debate:

  1. Potato preparation: Do you grate the potatoes by hand, or do you use a food processor?
  2. Starch: Do you get your starch from draining the potatoes, or simply add some cornstarch?
  3. Onion: White or green?
  4. Topping: Sour cream or apple sauce?

Latkes

Hoping to weigh in on this often tenuous debate, I decided to try yet another recipe. This one came from the Jerusalem cookbook, one of the most lauded cookbooks of the year and a new addition to my (fairly small) cookbook library.

Without a doubt, these latkes were a winner. I particularly enjoyed the addition of parsnips, which gave the latkes a sweet, nutty flavor.  While I’ve gone the non-traditional route before, the addition of parsnips improved the flavor without changing the overall appearance. I also liked the use of both oil and butter for frying, since this technique gave the latkes a crunchy, beautifully brown exterior.

The only thing missing? Applesauce. I like sour cream, but nothing can compare to the sweet and tart flavor of pureed apples.

Latkes

Latkes Recipe (adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi)

Ingredients:

  • 2 3/4 cups waxy potatoes, peeled and grated
  • 1 1/3 cups parsnips, peeled and grated
  • 1/3 cup green onions, chopped
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • butter and safflower oil, for frying
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sour cream

Instructions:

  1. Drain the grated potatoes: Place grated potatoes in a colander and squeeze with your hands. Once most of the water has been removed, spread potatoes onto 2 sheets of paper towel (or a dishtowel) and let dry.
  2. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, parsnips, green onions, egg whites, and cornstarch.  Stir until well combined.
  3. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet.  Once hot, take about two tablespoons of the potato mixture into your hands and form into a thin patty. Carefully place the latke into the hot oil mixture and repeat until the skillet is full (latkes should not be touching).  Fry on the first side for about 5 minutes, or until the underside is golden brown.  Flip latkes and fry for about 5 minutes more.
  4. Remove latkes from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a serving plate.  Keep warm in an oven heated to 200 degrees if necessary.
  5. Repeat process until all the potato mixture is fried, about three batches.