For some reason, over the holidays I got a hankerin' for latkes. (Yes, I just said I got a hankerin'.) I've had them a handful of times over my lifetime, as my mom's family is Jewish and we tried to celebrate Hanukkah once or twice. Most of what I know about Hanukkah comes from Lamb Chop's Sing-Along, so I consider myself an expert. (P.S. Actually, according to Wikipedia it was called Lamb Chop's Play Along. Who knew?!) Anyhow, on Saturday, I finally got to doing it. I didn't follow one specific recipe; I read several online and sort of combined ingredients and tips from all of them. Here are most of the ingredients:
I think I somehow ended up with two different kinds of potatoes, which I discovered once I relieved them of their skin:Weird. Anyway, the first step was to grate them. I did it by hand, because ehow told me only the weak would use a food processor. I was NOT going to let an inanimate website think I was weak! Let me tell you, potatoes sure have a heck of a lot of water in them. Grating them was a very strange experience. Another recipe counseled me to put the gratings in a bowl of cold water to prevent them from getting discolored, so that's what you see next to the grater. I think soaking them also did something like removing starch (which would explain why the water turned sort of milky colored) so as not to make the cooked pancakes soggy.
The next step is to wring out the grated potato bits. Did I mention that potatoes have a lot of water? I smushed them in a colander, wrung them out in a dish towel, and they STILL soaked through multiple paper towels as I shaped them into cakes. The cakes also included grated onion (which was not nearly as painful to my eyes as I was afraid it would be), egg, a bit of flour, and some seasonings. Here's batch two cooking, with batch one in the background on a cooling rack:
It took me until about the third batch to 1) figure out how to keep the lumps intact so that they would turn into actual pancakes and 2) figure out how to turn said lumps without causing disintegration. The technique I eventually settled on included a spatula and a stiff-edged other utensil thing to push each cake (GENTLY) onto the spatula and stabilize it as I flipped. I felt pretty professional as I did it. Other keys included keeping the pan greased enough (these ended up with a TON of vegetable oil in them, oops) and letting them "set" for long enough (around 5 minutes) before trying to flip them. I also don't think it hurt that the pan was hotter with each subsequent batch. Here's how dinner turned out:
To further enrich our cultural experience, we read about Hanukkah here. Probably they ran out of oil in the first place because someone used it all to keep her skillet greased for latkes...</div> </div>