And now for something completely different. No self-righteous rants. No artful alliterations (I lied). No touching memories or thoughtful reflections. Instead, because Hanukkah starts tonight, I’m just going to tell you a secret about how to make perfect latkes. Actually, eight.
Because everybody likes secrets, don’t they? And recipes rule. Right? And lists? I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for 20 months without posting a single list. Is the even legal? Oh, and why eight? If you have to ask, you’re probably that person who includes matzo in the Hanukkah display at the supermarket.
EIGHT SECRETS OF PERFECT LATKES
1. White Potatoes
You want to make zucchini/sweet potato/apple/whatever fritters? Knock yourself out. But don’t call them latkes. Latkes mean white potatoes. End of story.
This is the 9-9-9 of the Festival of Lights. Except instead radically repressive redistribution of wealth, you get the perfect distribution of ingredients:
2 TB flour (really, just enough to hold them together)
One potato per person. Serving some other number of folks? Do the math. (And add salt and pepper to taste.)
By hand or using the grating blade of a food processor. Whatever you do, don’t blend. And don’t use those mixes. You want lacy. You’re making latkes, not fried mashed potatoes.
Adding the onion between the potatoes keeps the spuds from discoloring. Adding the potatoes between the onions cuts down on the crying.
5. Planter’s Peanut Oil
The potato-onion mixture gets too watery. Adding more flour gives you heavy latkes. Keep the mixture in a colander, and squeeze it out as you go.
Heat the oil (I fill the pan to about half an inch) until a drop of water flicked from your fingers skitters when it hits the oil. If things start to smoke, it’s too hot.
8. No Sweater
Take that thing off and hide it on the other side of the house. Preferably inside a drawer. Otherwise, it’ll be smelling like latkes forever. Although, now that I think about it, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You could see it as a way of extending the latke experience, couldn’t you? You know, like the miracle of the 24-hour supply of oil that lasted as many days as this list has secrets?