My Mother’s Potato Pancakes (Latkes)

Servings 6 -8 servings
I always wanted Mother’s Bistro to be a place where people could come to celebrate holidays with traditional foods.  That’s why we make turkey for Thanksgiving, hot cross buns for Easter, and potato pancakes for Hanukah. Most of my holiday recipes come from my mother and this one is no exception.  I honored my mother as a Mother of the Month (M.O.M.) when I first opened my restaurant (even though she passed away many years ago, when I was 21), because it’s very clear I owe my culinary talents to her. The key to light, crispy potato pancakes is not scrimping on the oil (follow the recipe!) and squeezing out as much liquid as possible from the grated potatoes and onions before mixing them with the eggs and flour. Don’t rinse the grated potatoes – their natural starch helps hold the pancakes together.
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  • 2 pounds potatoes (any kind will do, but russets work great)
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour or matzoh meal Matzoh meal is made of ground matzoh, an unleavened, cracker-like bread eaten during Passover and common in Jewish cooking. Look for it on the kosher foods aisle.
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup vegetable oil, for frying (measurement is approximate)
  • Applesauce (see recipe on website)
  • Sour Cream


  • Preheat oven to 250°F. Peel the potatoes and onion. Grate them using the fine grater attachment on your food processor, or grate by hand with the large holes on a box grater.
  • Transfer grated potatoes and onions to a colander. Press and squeeze to extract and discard as much liquid as possible.
  • Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the grated and squeezed potatoes and onions, flour, salt and pepper. Toss gently with your hands to mix well.
  • Preheat the oven to 250°F.Place a large (12- to 14-inch) sauté pan over high heat for several minutes. When hot, add oil to a depth of¼ inch.  Heat oil until shimmering.
  • Working in batches, measure¼-cup scoops of the potato mixture into the oil (be careful you don’t splash oil when dropping the batter), leaving enough room between them to turn the pancakes.  (You can measure the first one so you get an idea of how large they should be, and then use a large spoon for the rest, or use a 2-ounceice cream scoop.)  Flatten each pancake with a flat metal spatula so they aren’t too thick and will cook evenly. 
  • Fry the pancakes one side until golden brown, about 3 minutes, turn with a slotted spatula and fry on the other side for another 3 minutes (lower the heat to medium if they are browning too fast -- before they have a chance to cook thoroughly). Transfer pancakes to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain and place in the oven to keep warm (but don’t stack them or they’ll be soggy).  Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more oil, if necessary, between batches. (If freezing for later use, under cook them a bit so they don’t get too dark when reheated and don’t bother putting them in the oven. Let the pancakes cool before wrapping in plastic and freezing in zip-top freezer bags. Defrost, then reheat in a 350°F oven for about 15 minutes).
  • Serve with applesauce and sour cream.