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One Potato, Two Potato

Written by Leah Schapira on Sunday, 25 December 2011. Posted in Tips And Tricks

My search for the perfect latke, began with the choice of potato. On a bright Tuesday morning, I headed out to my local vegetable market to select my potatoes.  I chose one variety from each category and headed home to start the taste test. 

My Cast of Characters:

What’s the difference between one potato and the next? The easiest way of grouping potatoes is by dividing them into three groups:

High Starch/Low-Moisture Potatoes

Potatoes such as Russet and Idahos are the best choice for fluffy French fries, roasted potatoes and creamy mashed potatoes. I also like them for good ol’ baked potatoes. While they soak up liquid and flavoring better than other varieties, they tend to loose their shape easily. They soak up liquid as they cook and eventually fall apart. 

Medium-Starch Potatoes

Yukon Golds, All purpose potatoes and yellow/golden potatoes are one of my favorites. While they share many traits with the high starch potatoes, they hold their shape better




Low-Starch/High-Moisture Potatoes

Red-skinned, boiling or waxy potatoes and some potatoes labeled  “new potatoes” hold their shape the best. If you’re looking to get nice size chunks in a soup, or a potato salad that doesn’t fall apart these potatoes are your best choice.  



Once we’ve got our potatoes, it was time to move on to the rest of the ingredients. 

Eggs and Onions

If you like a bit of sweetness to your latkes, you can choose to use a sweet onion such as Vidalia. Eggs are easy. There are no choices. Some salt and pepper and we were set to begin. While some people like some flour to bind the latkes together, I prefer to keep it pure. Let the flavors shine on their own.









The Grate

The kind of grater or food processor blade you use, does make a difference. If you like a a crispy latke, you should shred the potatoes. If you prefer a softer latke you can finely grate the potatoes.

I peeled and grated 2 pounds of each variety. In three separate bowls, I placed the grated potatoes with some grated onion, 2 eggs, plenty of salt and some freshly crushed black pepper. 
Then started the frying. 3 skillets with some oil, place some latke batter,  sizzle sizzle, fry, turn over, sizzle... YUM!  I've got to admit, my house smelled like a big skillet of fried oil. But the latkes, oh the latkes, where divine. 
I set out all the latkes on some plates, and got myself some taste testers. 
Latke, Latke on the plate who's the fairest one we ate! (Ok, that doesn't sound as great as the original.)
The verdict? They we're all good. Some more tasters, some more testing and the finally a decision. 
While it's hard to tell a significant difference, the Russet latkes where a favorite. Coming in a close second, the Yukon Gold latkes. 
My favorite way of serving latkes are not with applesauce, nor with sour cream. It's with Thai Sweet Chili! It may not be the way our Bubbies ate them. 
I'll end off with my favorite tip. Place a piece of carrot in the skillet while frying. Your oil will stay clear and will last longer. 
What's your favorite tip for latkes? 

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About the Author

Leah Schapira

Leah Schapira is the bestselling author of Fresh & Easy Kosher Cooking. In 2010, Leah launched, the popular online kosher recipe exchange. Her cookbook career began at the age of 21, when she wrote her first cookbook as a fundraiser to begin channeling her passion for recipes. Leah is also a monthly columnist for Whisk, the popular kosher food magazine published by Ami Magazine, where readers appreciate her humor and wit. She has been featured in The Washington Post, The Star Ledger, and The Blue Lifestyle, among many others. When she's not writing cookbooks Leah enjoys traveling the world with her husband and children.

Comments (2)

  • sarahpascal
    26 December 2011 at 05:41 |

    These latkes look delicious! Thanks for the tips and all the great Chanukah posts.

  • CookMama
    26 December 2011 at 19:12 |

    Tried out the tip about using a carrot in the oil. Really worked and the oil is so clear still that I think if I refrigerate it I might be able to use again tomorrow. Thank you for this informative post about potatoes. It is very helpful and much appreciated!

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