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Best. Latkes. Ever.

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Best. Latkes. Ever.

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Bandanagirl - Vampire Red
Out of all the eight nights of Hanukkah, there were only two this year when all three of us would be in the house: last Thursday, and tonight. I didn't have the energy on Thursday, so I made our annual latke feast tonight.

For three people, I used five pounds of russet potatoes, two smallish onions, two eggs, and enough salt. No flour, no matzo meal, no baking powder; flour and matzo meal make the latkes heavy, and trying to lighten them with baking powder makes them bitter. These are latkes as the Flying Spaghetti Monster intended -- pure potato goodness.

Here is what you do: you peel the potatoes. You can do this ahead of time; just leave the peeled potatoes in a bowl of cold water, so they don't discolor.

When you're ready to grate them, also peel the onions. You can grate them by hand on a box grater (watch out for your knuckles) or a wire safety grater -- the safety grater gives the best texture, but it takes kind of a long time and leaves your arm sore. I do as my father the engineer did, and use a food processor. First put everything through on the grating disk, and then pulverize the shreds with the chopping blade. You'll want to get the onion into the mix pretty early, because onions are full of antioxidants and keep the potatoes from turning funny colors. You'll want a mixing bowl to hold the shreds, and another to hold the puree, unless you've got a commercial-capacity RobotCoupe or something -- five pounds is too much for the workbowl of your average household processor, so you'll need to work in batches.

When all you have is a bowl of puree, dump it into a colander that you've lined with a kitchen towel. NOT paper towels, they'll disintegrate. NOT terrycloth, the puree will stick to the nap. Linen tea towel, or flour sack towel, or one of those gauze not-prefolded "diapers" that people only ever use as burp cloths, or scrap muslin, or several layers of cheesecloth if that's the best you can do. Gather up the cloth around the puree. Wring out EVERY LAST BIT OF LIQUID YOU CAN MANAGE. This is the secret, right here. If you get the potato mixture nice and dry, you don't need flour or matzo meal to absorb the moisture, and they will fry up crisp and delicious.

Sprinkle generously with kosher salt, and mix in two eggs. I know of no better method than squishing them in with your hands. The sink's right there.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet until shimmering. (A griddle doesn't hold the depth of oil you need.) Drop in spoonfuls of the mixture. Flatten them out nicely. When they're browned around the edges, flip them over and cook the other side.

Remove to a baking sheet lined with a brown paper grocery bag. Eat them as soon as they're cool enough to pick up. Latke night does not require plates. It requires everyone hanging around in the kitchen and eating them as you fry them. The cook, too.

I did put the last two latkes of mine onto a small plate so I could enjoy them with a spoonful of sour cream. But it's not necessary. Some people like applesauce. I don't.

Nothing else is served for dinner on latke night. Nutrition be damned. We've got a miracle to celebrate here.
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