Potato Latkes Recipe, Easy Crisp Potato Pancakes
Traditional potato latkes or pancakes originated in Eastern Europe (Germany Russia, Austria, and Poland) as a simple peasant food based on potatoes were plentiful, cheap and easy to store.
The European Jews renamed this simple potato pancake dish, by using the Yiddish name, 'Latkes', and they became a special holiday food with extra ingredients.
The very basic recipe for Latkes includes just five simple ingredients: potatoes, matzo meal or all-purpose flour, onions, eggs, salt and oil.
There are many ways in which you can customize this basic recipe. You can use sweet potato, many herbs and vegetables, spices and cheese. The recipe below includes leeks, cumin chives and a generous addition of kale that adds to the crispiness of the Latkes.
Frying the potato pancakes using rice bran oil or grape seed oil, which have a high smoke point and a neutral taste, means that the delicate tastes of the ingredients and not swamped by the taste of the oil and high temperatures ensure a crisp texture.
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch
- Freshly ground pepper and salt and to taste
- About 1/4 cup grape seed oil, or rice bran oil
- 2 large leeks, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced very thinly
- 5 cups of peeled and grated potatoes, tightly packed, (use starchy potatoes)
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground coarsely (or cumin powder)
- 1/2 pound (250g) kale, washed, dried, stems removed and finely sliced into thin slivers (about 3 cups of sliced kale, tightly packed)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Place a wire rack on a flat baking sheet or shallow dish to keep the Latkes warm after they have been cooked. Combine the leeks, potatoes, kale, baking powder, cumin, chives, salt, pepper, and flour or cornstarch in a large bowl and mix well. Add the beaten eggs and mix together so all the potato and leek pieces are coated in the mixture.
Heat a large heavy skillet a moderate temperature and then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil and leave until the oil is very hot. Scoop a heaped tablespoon of the latke mixture and squeeze with another spoon placed on top to remove excess liquid. Transfer each spoonful into the pan and flatten. Only fry batches of three pancakes at once.
Cook one side until golden brown (generally about 3 minutes), then flip over and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Transfer each batch of cooked pancakes to the wire rack on the baking sheet in the oven, to drain and keep warm. It is important to keep the oil hot and to squeeze the excess liquid from the pancakes before frying.
Serve hot with low-fat sour cream sauce, a salsa or simply a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt and top with finely chopped cilantro, broad-leaf parsley or mint.
© 2013 Dr. John Anderson