If we are ever to have peace in the world, we must know and understand one another. What better way can we learn about each other’s traditions and culture than through our great common love? Food!
Central Christian Church of Dallas (Disciples of Christ) invited Oren Saloman and Marta Skiba to join us in the church kitchen Saturday morning for a hands-on cooking class on the art of making latkes.
What are latkes? A simple answer—pancakes made of shredded potatoes. A more complex answer — a traditional food enjoyed by Jewish families during Hanukkah, representing the “miracle of the oil.” Luckily Jewish restaurants and deli’s serve them year- round so they can be enjoyed at every season.
The word “latke” derives from Yiddish, the Jewish language spoken by Eastern European Jews.
Latkes are a humble dish, originating in Europe as a peasant food, using only a few ingredients. But since some of the items called for in the recipe may not be staples in everyone’s pantry, I am sharing “where I found what” in Dallas for your shopping convenience.
Duck Fat: Both Central Market and Jimmy’s Food Store stock Duck Fat. (We used it for frying instead of vegetable or grapeseed oil.)
Smaltz: (chicken fat) Tom Thumb at Preston Forest has a Kosher section in their store. Smaltz is in the frozen food section of the Kosher area.
Matzo Meal: Common in most grocery stores. I found it at both Central Market and Kroger.
Potato Starch: If you do not use the item often, Central Market carries it in their bulk section so you may buy only the small amount called for in the recipe. However, many people use it to thicken soups and stews so it has a number of uses.
After the cooking class, we gathered in the church fellowship hall to enjoy the delicious golden latkes served with the traditional condiments of applesauce and/or sour cream, New York pastrami on rye bread and kosher dill pickles. We washed it down in deli style with Dr. Brown cream sodas and finished with cheesecake from Cheesecake Royale on Garland Road.
Servings 24 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Kosher Key Parve or Meat
Calories 74 kcal
Learn to make crispy, flavorful Jewish potato latkes for Hanukkah with potato shreds, schmaltz or vegetable oil, onions, matzo meal. Kosher.
- 2 1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1 large white or brown onion, shredded
- 3/4 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 tbsp potato starch
- 1 1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Peanut or grapeseed oil for frying (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 cup schmaltz (optional)
You will also need: hand grater or food processor with shredding disc attachment with choice of large holes or fine holes, clean tea towel or layers of cheesecloth, skillet or electric skillet for frying, colander, large mixing bowl, medium bowl, metal spatula, wire cooling rack
- Before you begin making the latkes, place your wire cooling rack close to the area where you will be frying the latkes. Place a layer of paper towels below the cooling rack to catch excess oil.
- Cut the potatoes into large chunks and shred using a hand grater or food processor shredding attachment with large holes (large shreds). I really recommend using the food processor, it saves a ton of time and will help you avoid onion tears when grating the onion.
- Place grated potato into a bowl and immediately cover with cold water.
- Meanwhile, grate the onion using the grater or food processor attachment with fine holes (small shreds).
- Drain the potato shreds in a colander. Rinse and dry the bowl used to soak the shreds and set aside.
- Place drained potato shreds and grated onion in the center of a clean tea towel or multiple layers of cheesecloth.
- Wrap the shreds up in the cloth, twisting the cloth to secure the bundle, and squeeze firmly to remove excess liquid from the shreds.
- Pour potato and onion into the clean dry bowl. Stir the shreds with a fork to make sure the grated onion is evenly mixed throughout the potato shreds.
- In a skillet, add oil to reach a depth of 1/8 inch. Add 1/4 cup of schmaltz to the oil if you'd like, it will add more savory flavor to the latkes. Heat slowly over medium to about 365 degrees F. While oil is heating, use the fork to stir the matzo meal,beaten eggs, potato starch, salt and pepper into the potato and onion shreds. You can add salt and pepper to taste. I add about 1 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. You can sprinkle on more salt to taste after cooking, if desired. Take care to make sure the egg and seasonings are fully mixed throughout the potato shreds.
- Scoop up 3 tbsp of the potato mixture and shape into a tightly compacted disk. I do this by first filling a 1/8 measuring cup and then filling again halfway.
- Place the disk carefully into the hot oil. Latkes can break apart at this point, they’re very delicate. If you can get them into the hot oil in one piece, chances are they will stick together – frying them is like the “glue” that holds them together. It takes a gentle touch, and it may take you some practice to get the “feel” for it.
- The oil should sizzle, but not pop when the latke hits it; if the oil jumps wildly or smokes, it is too hot. If it only bubbles weakly, the oil is not hot enough. Use the first latke to test the oil temperature, and don’t fry a whole batch until the temperature is right.
- Continue shaping the latkes in this way, using 3 tablespoons of potato mixture for each latke. Fry in batches of 4-5 latkes at a time (no more than that – don’t crowd the pan) for 2-3 minutes per side until brown and crispy. Note: If your latkes aren’t holding together, stir more potato starch into the mixture, 2 teaspoons at a time, until the batter “holds”. You can also add another egg to the mixture and more matzo meal, if needed.
- Remove the latkes from the pan using a metal spatula and place them on the wire cooling rack to drain.
- I recommend serving latkes fresh within 10 minutes of frying them, if your cooking schedule permits. If you need to make them ahead, fry them 4 hours or less before serving. After allowing the latkes to drain on the wire cooling rack, place them on an ungreased, unlined cookie sheet. Leave them at room temperature until ready to reheat. Place in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes (7 if using a convection oven), until heated through, just prior to serving. Sprinkle with more salt, if desired, and serve latkes with applesauce and/or sour cream (or dairy free sour cream).
Amount Per Serving
Calories 74 Calories from Fat
18% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Cholesterol 17mg 6%
Sodium 132mg 6%
Potassium 221mg 6%
Total Carbohydrates 10g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 2g 4%
Vitamin A 0.5%
Vitamin C 7.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
If you are interested in Central’s cooking classes, contact the church office at 214-526-7291 or email email@example.com. Our activities are open to the community and you do not have to be a member of the church to participate.
We would love for you to visit. Sunday morning worship is at 11 a.m. in the sanctuary and “Church in the Dog Park” is at 9 a.m. on the first and third Sunday of the month. All are welcome!