One of the Jewish traditions I grew up with was the making, and eating, of potato latkes during Hanukkah. It was an extended family affair, with all of us pitching in. One of us would peel the potatoes while another would (tearfully) tend to the onions. An adult would do the actual cooking. All of us would participate in scarfing them down.
I was going to make potato latkes this Hanukkah, but it slipped my mind and I didn’t end up making them until after Hanukkah. After many tears (from the onions) and some grating, mixing, mashing and frying, I had myself some tasty latkes. Some of them even posed for me:
There was no Virgin Mary in my latkes, but this one does look a bit like a burning bush
I had forgotten to add eggs. According to some authorities, latkes without eggs are basically hash browns. Others say that, as long as there is a cohesive pancake, it can be considered a latke. I wanted to cover all my bases, so the next day I added some eggs.
I had let the batter sit overnight. A big no-no as they oxidize. I also may have added too many eggs (3 to the already half used-up batter).
Potato latkes are good with sour cream or apple sauce or both. Like any ethnic food, the appeal extends far beyond its taste or texture; there’s also heritage and nostalgia.
Here’s how I made my first batch:
I grated about ten medium/small potatoes and two fairly large onions. Mixed them together with about one cup of all-purpose baking mix and about a cup of matzo meal. Added some salt and pepper and then deep-fried the patties until they were brown as shown above. You can vary the amount of onions to suit your taste and you can use plain flour instead of baking mix. I was never a fan of exact recipes; I just add ingredients as I see fit at the time.
By adding eggs to the second batch, their identity crisis seems to have been solved. Now they know they’re latkes and not hash browns. But are they good latkes? I’ll continue to work on that and report my progress.