Latkes are one of those things that everyone thinks their recipe is the best. I can remember watching women in temple get really heated over who makes the best latkes, and closely guard their family’s secrets. It’s kind of funny if you think about it.
Growing up we ate latkes once a year. My mom would make them for Chanukah, often with my Bubby keeping her company in the kitchen (my Bubby was not known for her culinary skills). There was always the dread of how much work it was, and how it made the house smell like oil and onions for months. I loved eating them, but once they were gone we’d have to wait another year for more.
Once I had kids, I thought it was time to take over the latke-making tradition. I tried many different versions (from adding other root vegetables and herbs to trying to make them low fat -yuck!), but hit upon a recipe that I really loved. I continued to tweak it a little every year, especially once I went vegan and cut out the eggs, to then swapping the flour for potato starch when I went gluten-free. Honestly, these lakes are fantastic!
The trick is that you shred all of the Russet potatoes and onions, and then pulse (though not quite puree), half of the potato and onion mixture. The you add salt, white and black pepper, potato starch and baking powder. The baking powder gives them some life, and the combo of different textures in there gives you the best of hash browns and potato pancakes. Although you press out the extra liquid, you don’t have to get crazy about it. If the batter starts to get too watery while you’re making them, I throw in a little more potato starch. I also highly recommend cooking them up in cast iron too, because it helps get the latkes extra crispy. Although I only make these once a year, they are our favorite!
Tonight is the night I’m making latkes. I usually start making them in the early evening, right before everyone arrives. Things start heating up (literally), with my gigantic Lodge cast iron skillet heating under a big blue gas flame, shimmering with hot glistening oil (remember that using oil is important for Chanukah). I start frying the latke mixture, making sure not to overcrowd the pan, carefully turning them once they are nicely browned on the bottoms (and being careful not to splash myself with hot oil).
This scene continues, with everyone waiting patiently for their crispy, hot potato latkes, until the last one emerges from the skillet. The latkes are crazy delicious, served with applesauce and a sprinkling of sea salt (or vegan caviar or our yummy Quick Smoky Cheddar Cheese), and everyone goes from being ravenous and inhaling them as fast as they can, to the couch or floor feeling deliciously full. By the time this evening is over, the latkes are gone, and any hopes of eating more will have to wait for next year.
These latkes are not only the best (in my humble opinion), they are everything you want in a potato pancake. Utter crispy deliciousness! No one will ever guess that they are gluten-free and vegan.
Please let us know if you make these latkes! You can tag us or use #julieandkittee #veganlatkes.
We hope you love it!
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xo Julie & Kittee