The recipe for these latkes has been passed down from my fiance’s grandmother. Although, it’s less of a “recipe” and more of a list of ingredients, as many family dishes are. Having made these latkes with his family before, I developed a recipe that takes those ingredients and results in deliciously, crispy latkes. I use a cheesecloth to draw out the liquid, but I’ve heard that a salad spinner works amazingly well too.
Crispy potato latkes with a homemade cinnamon applesauce.
Recipe: Grandma Figa’s Latkes
- A cheesecloth, thin cotton dish cloth or thin t-shirt
- a large cast iron skillet or heavy bottomed pan to fry the latkes
- a wire rack (optional) to keep the latkes crisp
- 4 russet potatoes
- 1 medium onion
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/3 cup matzo meal
- 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt (use half for any other salt brand, plus more for topping)
- Black pepper (ground)
- 2 to 3 eggs (whisked)
- Neutral oil for frying
- Line a large bowl with a cheesecloth, a thin cotton dishcloth or a thin t-shirt. The thinner your cloth, the more liquid will be released from the potatoes and onions, meaning crispier latkes.
- Grate the potatoes and onion using a box grater, food processor, or hand grater. You want to choose the large, coarse holes to grate from. I like to grate each potato and onion half, then add the gratings to the bowl. A hand grater will not get as many “stringy” ends that you might typically see in popular latke recipes — for those, you’ll likely need a food processor. Add the salt into the bowl.
- Grab the ends of the cheesecloth together and squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the cheesecloth. The potatoes and onions release a lot of liquid, so don’t worry if this takes a few minutes.
- Once the potatoes and onions are as dry as possible, pour the potato/onion mixture directly into the bowl and remove the cheesecloth.
- Add the baking soda, matzo meal, black pepper, and 2 eggs to the bowl and mix until just combined. If you find that the batter is not holding together, you can add the final egg.
- Prep the oil for frying: In a large cast-iron or heavy bottomed skillet, add about 1/4” of oil. You want enough oil so that at least half of your latke is submerged to ensure even cooking. You can also deep-fry them fully if desired and heat 1/2” of oil. Heat at medium high. The oil is ready when sizzling, but not smoking (between 350F – 360F). I highly recommend trying a small test latke to see how it comes out, then adjusting the heat as needed before cooking the rest.
- While the oil is heating, you can squeeze out more liquid from the latke batter if necessary using the cheesecloth.
- To form a latke, scoop 1/4 cup of batter into your hands and loosely form into a patty (don’t pack it down or it will get dense), about 3” – 4” in diameter and 1/4” to 1/8” thick, depending on your desired thickness and width.
- Carefully place into the oil using a spatula (be cautious, since the oil is hot!). I typically cook 3 to 4 latkes at a time in the oil using my 10” cast iron skillet. You can also spoon a bit of batter directly into the pan to make it easier.
- Cook until golden brown on one side, about 2 minutes, then flip until the other side is golden brown. Typically, this takes me about 3-4 minutes total.
- Once the latke is cooked, place on a plate with a paper towel and press to let the oil drain from both sides, for about 1 minute. If you have a wire rack, place the latkes on the wire rack to keep them crispy. In a pinch, if you have a gas stove, you can keep the latkes on the grates of your stove to keep them crispy.
- While the next batch is cooking, you can keep the latkes warm in the oven (especially on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet if you have one) at 350 degrees.
- Eat immediately — after sitting out for a while, latkes can get soggy.
- Squeezing as much liquid out as possible is one of the biggest contributing factors to a good latke. This is why a thinner cloth, like cheesecloth, is better because it’s easier to squeeze out that liquid.
- Do not let your latke batter sit out — prep the ingredients and make the batter right before frying. Otherwise, the potatoes can oxidize too much and turn brown. If you’re worried about oxidation, you can add a squeeze of lemon juice or a 1/2 tsp of white vinegar. But either way, you’re going to want to make your latkes as quickly as possible from when you start grating the potatoes and onion.
Recipe: Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce
- 6 medium apples (about 3 lbs, peeled, cored, and diced; honey crisp, Granny Smith, or Macintosh all work. Avoid Red Delicious, as the texture is less ideal.)
- 3/4 cup apple cider
- 1/4 cup white or brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- A pinch of salt
- In a large dutch oven or high-walled heavy bottom pot, add all ingredients.
- Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until the apples mash easily with a fork or spoon. This may take a bit longer, depending on the kind of apples you have.
- To finish the applesauce…° For a chunky mash, you can mash the apples directly in the pot with a fork or potato masher until you’ve reached the desired consistency. Transfer to a serving bowl and let cool before serving. At this point, you can also season the applesauce again with more cinnamon or salt if desired. If you want more sweetness, I recommend adding some maple syrup.° For a smooth mash, transfer the apple mixture to a blender. Blend until smooth. At this point, you can also season the applesauce again with more cinnamon or salt if desired. If you want more sweetness, I recommend adding some maple syrup.