latke throwdown 2021

How to Make the Ultimate Latkes, According to ICE Chefs

We pitted two ICE chefs against each other to see which family latke recipe reigned supreme.

Like many Hanukkah holiday staples, the humble-yet-mighty potato pancake can be prepped in a myriad of ways with every family having their own particular recipe or method. 

“Your potato latke shouldn’t be fancy,” says Chef and Dean of Students, Lorne Feldman. “That’s not the point. Keep them simple — make them like your grandmother did.”

So here at ICE, we upped the ante and put latkes to the test, pitting Chef Lorne Feldman against Joshua Resnick, Lead Chef and Operations Manager, to see which latke reigned supreme. 

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According to both chefs, there’s a method to the latke madness. “I start by using a food processor to fabricate my onions, allowing me to extract as much of the juice from them,” says Chef Joshua. “This helps prevent the potatoes from oxidizing and ensuring that the onions are evenly spread throughout the mixture. It also allows the onions to cook fully, releasing their natural sweetness.” Using only the potato starch as the binder, these latkes are both gluten-free and vegetarian — an added bonus. 

Chef Lorne prefers to grate all of his ingredients using the large holes of a box grater, just as his grandmother did when he was growing up. “I use matzo meal as a binder as I prefer the texture versus using flour, and because my grandmother always had matzo meal on hand,” he says. “These latkes are considered kosher, except if you nick your finger on the grater — then, not kosher anymore!” 

The one thing both chefs agree on is that a proper latke should err on the salty side — and they never eat latkes outside of their own kitchen. 

Recipe

Chef Joshua’s Minimalist Potato Latkes

Yield: 18-20 Latkes

Ingredients

  • 1 Spanish or yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 Idaho or Russet potatoes (about 2 lbs.), washed and scrubbed
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola oil

Directions

  1. Process onion in a food processor until fully puréed, scraping down the sides to ensure there are no large pieces left behind; reserve in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Using the large side of a box grater, grate the potatoes into the bowl with the onion purée, stirring each potato individually into onion mixture before continuing to the next potato.
  3. Once all the potatoes have been incorporated, season the mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix (preferably by hand) until well-combined. 
  4. Working over a smaller bowl, take a portion of the potato mixture in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible, reserving liquid in a measuring cup. Transfer the squeezed-out potato into a new bowl. Once all of the potato has been squeezed, transfer all of the potatoes back into the initial bowl.
  5. Allow the potato liquid to sit for 10 minutes, then pour off all of the liquid from the top, leaving the layer of white potato starch at the bottom of the container. Crack the eggs over top of the potato starch and, using a fork, scrape up all of the starch and whisk into the eggs.
  6. Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the potato mixture and fold together.
  7. Fill a straight-sided pan with 1/4 inch of oil, and heat over medium heat until it reaches 325-350 F.
  8. Measure out 1/4 cup of the potato mixture in a dry measuring cup and carefully drop into the oil. Use a fish spatula to flatten out the latke to be half-inch-thick. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown on both sides, then transfer to a baking rack over a sheet tray.
  9. Serve immediately or allow to cool before putting in the fridge. If these are being made in advance, store in an airtight container for up to three days or freeze for up to two months. To reheat, preheat an oven to 375 F and cook on a tin foil-lined pan for 10-15 minutes.
Chef Lorne’s Family’s Potato Latkes

Yield: 18-20 Latkes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds potato
  • 1 pound yellow onion
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup matzo meal
  • 2-3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Peanut oil, for frying

Directions

  1. Alternating with the onion, peel and grate the potatoes on the large holes of a box grater.
  2. Put the potato mixture in cheesecloth or a kitchen towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the potato mixture with the eggs, matzo meal, salt and pepper.
  4. Heat peanut oil over medium heat until shimmering. Fry a small bit of the mixture to taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  5. Scoop 1/4-1/3 cup of mixture and place in the hot oil, flatten lightly with a spatula.
  6. Fry until golden brown, then flip and fry the other side. It should take between 7-10 minutes per side. Place on a paper towel or paper bag to drain out the excess oil.
  7. Serve with sour cream or apple sauce and enjoy.

Chef’s Note: Latkes can be made in advance. After draining on towels, they can be placed in a 200 F oven on a wire rack over a sheet pan to keep warm. 

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