Saturday, December 12, 2015

Mrs. Latke Head

I did not grow up in Pittsburgh.  If I had, I would have knowledge of All Things Potato.  Pierogies, French fries on your salad, French fries in your sandwich – these are the main three food groups that Western Pennsylvania is famous for.  Get aht – yinz don’t wahnt fries on yinz’s steak salad?!

(For those like me, who are not from Western PA but have a bit of experience with Indian food: pierogies are essentially Polish samosas.  Potato filling wrapped in dough and then cooked.  I have to say, though, that I much prefer samosas to pierogies.)

Thus it was not until this year that I had knowledge of the product called frozen hash browns.  For a picnic this summer, my clever friend B_____, who did grow up in Pittsburgh, made a dish which my Younger Daughter called “Latke Salad” but which B_____ calls “Fried Potatoes.”  They are made using either dehydrated or frozen shredded potatoes, sautéed with diced onions, green peppers, and spices.  YD raved about Latke Salad.  I raved about the idea of shredded potatoes that did not contain scrapings of my knuckles.

Thanksgiving came. I cooked up a storm.  The next day I walked all over Pittsburgh’s Northside.  Then I was struck with Swollen Knee syndrome, remarkably on the same knee I injured during theHalloween Parades.   A variety of other things drained my energy.  And yet, Chanukah kept looking like it would arrive right on schedule, ten days after Thanksgiving.  Latke-making loomed.
Two-pan frying is necessary, if you want to finish cooking
the latkes before Purim.

I forced YD to help me at the grocery store.  She ran to get items while I limped around.  She did a fantastic job, until I came to “frozen hash browns” on the list.  I said, “Those are for making latkes.”  She balked.  “Those wouldn’t be real latkes!  You have to make latkes from potatoes!”  I said, “Okay,” and sent her back to get some real potatoes while I snuck over to the freezer section and found “Denny’s America's diner style hash brown shredded potatoes.”

My husband has been asking for someone to invent an Automatic Latke-Making Machine, but so far, there isn’t one.  When I shred the potatoes myself, latke-making is a long and messy process, at least two hours, including the time I spend removing gray shreds of potatoes from the kitchen walls.  With the frozen hash browns, it took about 45 minutes total.  Clean up was a breeze.  Woot! I even had the energy and enthusiasm to make Christmas cookies on the same day as I made latkes.   YD praised my latkes, and thanked me for using real potatoes.  I quickly disposed of the Denny’s bag and accepted her thanks.

My secret ingredient
Here on the blog I have made potato latkes six times.  The recipe using frozen hash browns follows (below), but if you are a purist and like to use “real potatoes” here is my recipe from past years.

If you are a Boy Scout at camp, here is a recipe for you.

Spin the dreidel. Sov, sov, sov.

Golden latkes, using no-longer-frozen potatoes
Potato Latkes using frozen shredded potatoes

YIELD 24 pancakes
Note:  This was just enough for the three of us, using the latkes as our main dish for dinner. If the Common Household Son will be at your table, double this recipe.

one 26-ounce package frozen Denny’s hash brown shredded potatoes.
(or any brand, about 5-6 cups)
½ to 1 cup onion, finely chopped
1⁄4 cup fresh parsley, minced
2 tablespoons milk
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper (more or less to your taste)
vegetable oil (total of about 1 cup, or maybe less)


Place hash browns in a strainer and rinse with cold water until thawed. Drain thoroughly; transfer to a large bowl.

Add onion, parsley, milk, eggs, flour, salt and pepper; mix well.

In a skillet over medium heat, heat 1/4 inches of oil. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls into hot oil. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Optional: Serve with sour cream or applesauce.

Note: If using refrigerated hash browns, skip the first step.


Angie said...

There's a hard way and an easy way for everything. Easy is good.

smalltownme said...

I use the food processor for my grated potato needs (which aren't frequent). I adore the boy scout recipe!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I had a food processor many years ago, which I burnt out (literally... the machine was smoking and I melted a plastic component or two) slicing potatoes for potatoes au gratin.
I love buying frozen shredded potatoes. Costco sells a 3# box of them. Thank you for reminding me to put it on the next shopping list! We'll have plenty for Christmas morning AND I'll get a boy to make up a batch of Latkes soon.

Green Girl said...

There's much to recommend the processed potato. Sure, scratch is authentic and all, but the cost difference is nothing once you factor in sheer labor expenses.
I had no idea Pennsylvania was a potato kind of place.

Cassi said...

I think I'm going to buy some frozen shredded potatoes this weekend . . . :-)

Patience_Crabstick said...

I love latkes, but they are so much work! I'll have to try this alternative method.

Cassi said...

So, my Blue Apron meals this week included a recipe with latkes. Along with two potatoes. But we happen to have some frozen shredded potatoes in the freezer because my daughter wanted to make hashbrowns . . . I think I'm going to make a substitution! Thanks for the tips :-)

The Crislers said...

Listen, I shred all my cheese by hand with my trusty box grater, but I cannot shred potatoes. I tried it ONCE and ended up shredding three knuckles into ribbons. Guess what looks a lot like potatoes? Human skin! Then my mother-in-law told me about the awesome wonder that is frozen hash browns, and I submitted her name for sainthood.

Also, can I just say how very CLEAN your stovetop looks? I have stovetop jealousy. Is stovetop one word? Spellcheck apparently thinks not.