We make hundreds of latkes for our Hanukkah parties. My husband's alter-ego is "The Optimizer" so he is always measuring and tweaking to find the best way to do everything. Read on to learn from our mistakes:
- Use lots of oil. The oil should not be "coating the pan." Those potato lumps should be swimming in the oil. We prefer a vegetable oil, not olive oil's stronger taste.
- The temperature of the oil is critical. Either use an electric grill that allows you to set the temperature of the oil or, if using the burners (like we do) use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the oil. The oil needs to be between 350 and 375 F. When frying lots of latkes you are constantly adding oil. You should wait for the right temperature or your latkes will be too greasy (if oil is not hot enough) or burn (too hot).
- The most time consuming and boring part of making lots of latkes is grating the potatoes and onions. Yes, use a food processor... but better: buy pre-shredded potatoes and diced onions. Both are available (separately) in frozen foods. We tried this last year and this version was almost as good as freshly grated... and 300% less work!
- Fry ahead of time and then freeze. We've spent many Hanukkah parties stuck in the kitchen. Now we know better. Fry ahead of time. Put the latkes on cookie sheets. Cover. Place the cookie sheets in the freezer. Once frozen, you can put the latkes in zip lock bags, thus making room for more latkes. The night of the party, heat on the cookie tray at 350 F for 20 minutes or so.
- I'm sure many would protest, but which latke recipe doesn't really matter as long as you use potatoes, onions, and eggs. Matzah meal vs. flour? Not important in our experience.
- Gourmet toppings are nice but you can't beat apple sauce and sour cream.