Episode twelve, potato cakes.
Sometimes called Latkes. But, those are traditionally a kosher dish eaten at Hanukkah. My version involves kosher salt, but it also usually involves bacon, which is not kosher.
A traditional latke is described as “Latkes are potato pancakes that are perhaps best known as traditional Hanukkah food. Made with potatoes, onion and matzah or breadcrumbs, these crispy treats symbolize the miracle of Hanukkah because they are fried in oil.” By Judism.about.com
I didn’t really fry mine in oil either…I did have some in there, because olive and vegetable oil have much higher smoking temperatures than butter and bacon fat. All of which found their way into my frying pan.
I love potato cakes, at least the way I do them because I don’t even try with raw potatoes. Last time I attempted to shred a raw potato I broke my cheese-grater. Right. in. half.
Screw that noise.
So, as part of my “shortcuts to being supermom” thing I’m trying. I keep pre-baked potatoes in the fridge at all times. They never last longer than a week, and it cuts down on SO MUCH PREP TIME.
Please see our first episode on how to bake potatoes.
Don’t wrap them in foil though. Bad stuff happens when you do that. Stuff that happens to the miracle of can foods happens when you leave potatoes in foil. (And unless you’re grilling, why are you doing that anyways???)
So you can use pretty much any kind of potato you have. Thaw some frozen hashbrowns, left-over mashed potatoes, prebaked. I [had my roommate] shred some of the pre-baked potatoes, while I made sure the bacon got cooked, chopped the onion (I used a sweet onion, which is generally the only kind I use when I need one of the big ones. I prefer green onions, they have the same onion taste and some of the moisture, but the texture is better and they’re smaller).
Once the potatoes are shredded and the bacon is cooked, the onions chopped, combine them all in a bowl and fold them together pretty gently.
Now, add an egg, or two, and some matzah, breadcrumbs, or if you’re me, straight up flour.
Then seasoning. Because potatoes really. really. like to drink it up.
I used low-sodium bacon, and definitely didn’t compensate accordingly with the other seasonings. So make sure you use enough. Salt. Black pepper. I’m not a big herbs fan, but herbs are great, cilantro especially, and then some crushed red pepper for some heat.
Let your “batter” sit for a couple minutes while you’re heating up your oil/butter/stew of grease for frying. I don’t recommend deep frying it.
Make sure there’s enough oil to cover the bottom of your pan, probably about a quarter of an inch deep. If you happen to have an electric skillet that is temperature controlled, use that. At about 350. If you have a thermometer, use that, at about 350. If you have yet to unlock either of these achievements, get your hand wet, and splash JUST A FEW DROPS I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH. If it sounds like a lovely summer rain, it’s right, if it sounds like a cliche boiling sound, turn that shit down and possibly cover it with a lid.
Grease fires aren’t cool.
You’re looking for a rain sound, a lovely, soothing, rain sound.
Put spoonfuls of the batter in and kinda spread it out so they’re flat-ish. They can be anywhere from tater-tot size to the size of the pan. But I like to do them just smaller than the size of my spatula, for, you know, convenience.
Let them sit for about 45 seconds, doing their thing. Remember, in this scenario we used already cooked potatoes, the only thing we need to cook right now is the egg.
Once they’re brown on one side, go ahead and flip and wait til they’re brown on the other.
Pull them out, let them drain off some of that oil on a rack or paper towels, and add just a little bit more salt on top while they’re still hot.
Serve. With, gravy, or cheese, or…ranch…I don’t know.