I was a bit delinquent in my cookbook purchasing last year. I tend to pick up about a dozen cookbooks a year plus ones that publishers send me to review. Last year I only got a few new ones so I’m trying to play catch up a bit.
One book that kept popping up on my list was Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi so I finally ordered it a few weeks ago.
The first thing I noticed about the book is that the cover is padded so you can use it as a pillow in a pinch.
The second thing I noticed about it was that it’s possibly the most stunning cookbook I’ve seen. I have a bunch of stuff tagged that I want to try in the book, but I figured the latke recipe was a good start.
There are a few tricks to this latke recipe that made them, hands down, the best I’ve ever made.
1) Peel and grate the parsnips and potatoes and rinse them gently under cold water.
2) Lay out the grated veggies on a few paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and pat them dry. The drier the better.
3) Stir together grated potatoes and parsnips with chives, egg whites, cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and a big pinch of black pepper. Stir together well.
4) In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Stir together as butter melts.
5) Working with about 1/3 cup of potato mixture, wring it out to remove some of the liquid, the add it to the hot pan and use a spatula to gently press it flat. Repeat until the pan is full. Try not to crowd the latkes too much so they brown nicely.
6) Fry latkes over medium-high heat for about five minutes per side. They should be really nicely browned.
7) Remove cooked latkes and let drain on a paper towel. Repeat until all the potato mixture is used. Add more butter and oil to the pan as needed to keep the pan well-oiled.
Serve latkes immediately with sour cream and chives or keep them warm in a 250 degree oven until you serve them.
Recipe from Jerusalem.
There are some interesting changes to this recipe that I think really make it special.
1) It uses parnsips and potatoes. This really changes the flavor and texture from a straight potato version.
2) The recipe uses WAY more chives than you would ever think to use. It totally works.
3) It uses cornstarch instead of flour which results in a much crispier latke.
4) The latkes cook in a combination of butter and oil. You get good browning and good flavor. What’s not to love about that?
Peeling and grating the veggies is the first step. The recipe is actually pretty specific and gives gram measurements for the potatoes and parsnips.
To be honest, I didn’t follow it perfectly because I wasn’t going to sit there and measure out grams of grated potatoes. I got close (about 5-6 cups of potatoes and 2-3 cups parsnips) and tossed them all in a colander.
Rinse the grated veggies with cold water which will wash off any excess starch. All of the strands of potatoes should be nicely separated and not sticking together at all.
Then spread them all out on a few paper towels and pat them very dry. This is probably the most important step of the latke process. Extra liquid will lead to soggy latkes and nobody likes soggy latkes.
Chives by the Boat
When I looked at the amount of chives in this recipe, I thought it was a mistake. It totally works though so just go with it.
Mince them up and stir them into the grated veggies.
Also stir in the cornstarch, egg whites, and a big pinch of salt and pepper.
This is the base for your latkes!
Cooking the Latkes
When you’re ready to cook, add about 2 tablespoons of butter and oil to a large skillet over medium heat. As I said before, using both of these really makes for a great finished product.
As the butter melts, stir it into the oil so the two combine.
Then work with about 1/3 cup of the potato mixture at a time and lightly wring out each portion to squeeze out extra liquid. Then add the portion to the pan and press down on it lightly to flatten it a bit.
Repeat until you fill the pan, but don’t crowd the pan. You’ll definitely have to cook these in batches.
Fry the latkes over medium-high heat for about five minutes per side.
They should be a nice dark brown color on both sides.
When the latkes are done, let them drain for a bit on a few paper towels.
You either want to serve these immediately or keep them warm in a 250 degrees Fahrenheit oven while you make the others.
When you do move on to the second or third batch of latkes, add more butter and oil to the pan as needed to keep it well-oiled. You don’t ever want a completely dry pan.
Serve these guys as soon as possible with a small dollop of sour cream, more chives, and some fresh ground pepper.
You could easily serve these as an appetizer, but they are my favorite for breakfast.
These plus a warm cup of coffee and I’m ready to start my day!