So yes, my first attempt at getting creative with my latkes ended in failure. I am neither proud, nor stubborn, so after this mishap I decided i needed to go back to basics and make a traditional, honest-to-goodness, classic potato latke. With help from a friend (really, her mother, but I won’t rub it in), I acquired a tested and bullet-proof plan of action.

Could I have done something to make these latkes more exotic? Sure. I thought about playing with fresh herbs and heady spices, but I wanted to stick to my roots this time around. Besides, a classic latke, though delicious and simple in its own right, can be a platform for any number of toppings, not the least of which includes apple sauce. They’re fried potato and onion (uh, YUM), so try some sour cream (also traditional), a fried egg (breakfast, anyone?), ketchup or barbecue sauce (if you’re a total goy), crème fraîche and caviar (no, really, just like an oyster),  or anything else you enjoy with fried potatoes.


  • 3-4 pounds of russet potatoes (weight is approximate)
  • 1 pound of onion, either yellow or white (again, weight is approximate)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)


  1. Wash and peel potatoes. Can be done in advance if kept under cold water.
  2. Chop potatoes and onions into relatively uniform chunks. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, so neatness doesn’t count.
  3. Process chunks in food processor in brief pulses, making sure to scrape down the bowl at least once. The final texture should be uniform, but still quite chunky.
  4. Drain the mixture in a colander lined with a tea towel or several layers of cheesecloth (work in batches if necessary).
  5. Twist the towel around the mixture and wring out the moisture, applying a fair amount of force.  Place in a large workbowl.
  6. Stir the mixture together with the beaten egg.
  7. Season with kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Be aggressive!
  8. Heat 1/4 cup (or so) of the vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  9. Scoop the latke mixture into the pan, flattening out into pancakes.
  10. Flip once the underside has browned, about 3 minutes maximum.
  11. Cool briefly before eating.

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I feel like I may be revisiting latkes at some point, if inspiration to do something weird and different strikes me. For now, I’m glad I finally figured out the basics, even if Chanukkah was last month.

– Max.