The basic Latke recipe includes simple ingredients: potatoes, onions, eggs, matzo meal or all-purpose flour, salt and oil. Traditionally, Germans eat their pancakes with applesauce.
- 3 medium potatoes. grated
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 large eggs
- 9 tablespoons matzo meal (substitute a dozen salt free saltine crackers, rolled in plastic bag until the consistency of course corn meal)
- ¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- vegetable oil
- To prepare the Lathes: Place small batches of grated potatoes in the center of a dish towel, gather up the sides of the towel, and wring excess liquid from the potatoes. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining potatoes. Add onion, eggs, matzo meal (crushed crackers), ¼ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper to the potatoes, mix well, and set aside.
- Heat ¼ inch of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the potato mixture by the ¼ cupful to the hot oil, lightly flatten pancakes with a spatula, and cook latkes until golden, about 5 minutes. Turn over and cook until heated through and golden brown, about 5 more minutes. Serve warm.
Culinary Tradition: Europe — eastern; associated with celebration of Jewish Hanukkah.
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COMMENT: Many Americans associate potato pancakes with Hanukkah. They originated in the eastern European countries of Germany Austria, Russia and Poland as a peasant food. Potatoes were cheap, plentiful and easy to store, making them a staple and necessitating inventive potato recipes. Still, it was the European Jews who gave potato pancakes their now-famous Yiddish name–latkes–and repurposed them as a holiday food.