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Garlic-Rosemary Potato Latkes
Yield: About 4 servings
The food processor ended the grater Reign of Terror that marked the Festival of Latkes.
But the four-sided grater offered one advantage (aside from the bits of torn knuckles so many grandmothers swore made their latkes that much more delicious): part of the potatoes could be shredded on the coarse side, to make a crispy crust, and the rest grated rather fine, to ensure a little creamy layer within. All coarse would mean all crunch--texture without an intense potato taste--while completely fine made latkes with too much mush beneath their thin crisp coat, causing them to absorb huge amounts of oil.
The solution is simple: grate the potatoes, using the shredding disk, then process about one third of them to a coarse puree. Result: crisp, crunchy, and creamy, all at once.
These fragrant potato pancakes require no topping or sauce as adornment, except, perhaps, a light sprinkle of coarse salt. They are perfect as is, ready to accompany any roasted or grilled chicken or meat.
About 1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold or 3 large russet (baking) potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon matzoh meal or unbleached all-purpose flour
About 3/4 teaspoon salt
About 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Olive oil, for frying
Sea salt (optional)
Shred the potatoes, using the shredding disk in a food processor. (Don’t wash out the food processor--you’ll be using it again right away.) Transfer the potatoes to a colander or strainer and use your hands or a wooden spoon to press out as much moisture as possible.
Remove the shredding disk from the processor and replace with the steel blade. Return about one third of the shredded potatoes to the food processor. Add the garlic and rosemary and process, using the pulse motion, until roughly pureed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the remaining potatoes, the egg, matzoh meal or flour, salt and pepper to taste, and the baking powder to the bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined. Let stand for 10 minutes to mingle the flavors.
In a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet (cast-iron is ideal), heat about 1/4 inch of oil over high heat until hot but not smoking. Drop 1/4 cup of the potato latke batter into the pan and flatten with a spatula. Repeat with more batter, cooking no more than 4 or 5 latkes at a time; crowding the pan will give you soggy latkes.
Regulate the heat carefully, reducing it to medium as the latkes fry until golden and crisp on the bottom, about 4 minutes. To prevent oil from splattering, use two spatulas (or a spatula and a large spoon) to turn the latkes carefully. Fry until crisp and golden on the other side.
It’s best to flip the latkes only once, so that they don’t absorb too much oil. So, before turning, lift the latkes slightly with the spatula to make sure the underside is crisp and brown.
As the latkes are done, transfer them to paper towels or untreated brown paper bags to drain.
Continue making latkes in the same manner until all the batter is used. If necessary, add more oil to the pan, but always allow the oil to get hot before frying a new batch.
Serve straightaway, sprinkled with a little coarse salt, if you’d like. Or if necessary, keep the latkes warm in a 200 degree F oven (arrange them in a single layer on a rack placed over an oven-proof platter or baking sheet) and serve when they are all ready to be brought to the table.