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Perfect Potato Latkes for Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah, everyone!

Wherever the sun has gone down tonight, Hanukkah 2010 has already begun. To celebrate, what could be more delicious than a plate of perfect latkes? (If you said Sufganiot, then I can’t argue with you. I almost always prefer homemade doughnuts to all other food.) But latkes, made with olive oil, browned to perfection, and topped with sour cream and applesauce, are so delicious—they’re the perfect lead in to jelly doughnuts.

I learned this trick of letting the potatoes soak in cold water, then adding back in the potato starch afterward, from an episode of Martha Stewart. It’s a great trick, because it creates really lacy, crispy latkes.

If you do not already have a food processor, this might be the perfect time to ask for one for a gift. They are so much easier to use than a box grater—everything for this recipe can be ready in about thirty seconds, instead of twenty minutes.

Here is my holiday gift getting tip: If I were trying to get a food processor for the holidays (assuming I didn’t already have one, and I were still married, and I were attempting subtly), I would very politely ask my husband if he could please grate the potatoes and onion for me. Then, around the second potato, when he would start whining, I would mention how great a Cuisinart 11-Cup Food Processor would be. But that’s just me.

Potato Pancakes

4 large potatoes, such as Yukon Gold or New potatoes, peeled
1 small onion, peeled
4 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 eggs
4 tablespoons olive oil
apple sauce
sour cream, for garnish

1.  Shred potatoes and onion with a box grater or a food processor (This would be a good time to ask for a food processor for a gift).  Place in a large bowl and cover with ice water.  Allow to soak as you prepare other ingredients.

2.  Carefully remove the potato shreds, and place on a kitchen towel.  Let the water settle for a minute or two, then slowly drain off the water without disturbing the white powdery potato starch collected at the bottom of the bowl.  When all the water is drained, and only the starch remains, pat the potato shreds dry and add them back into the bowl.  Add in flour, onion, salt, pepper and eggs, and mix well (clean hands work best).

3.  Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat.  Working in small batches to avoid crowding the pan, drop by 1/4 cupfuls into oil and press flat with a spatula.  Add more oil to the pan as necessary. Cook until golden brown on both sides.   Place on paper towels set on a pan or oven-safe plate, and keep warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.
4.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and apple sauce.

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