Potato and Carrot Latkes

Potato and Carrot Latkes

Traditionally made and served during Hanukkah, latkes are small, savory pancakes made from a base of potatoes, and often incorporating other vegetables. I added carrots for a hint of sweetness and burst of color. Heirloom carrots, in red, purple and yellow, are gorgeous in this recipe.

The secret to a light, crispy texture: squeeze out as much water as possible before frying; wet vegetables mean mushy latkes—no good! So squeeze vigorously, and get those potatoes, carrots and parsnips as dry as possible. Other tips for maximum crispiness: use high-starch russet potatoes, and never, ever crowd the pan.

Without being too irreverent, you can try variations: add Indian curry and serve them with raita (yogurt, chopped cilantro and cucumber) or cook them in a small waffle iron and serve with mango chutney; use purple potatoes and serve with a honey-vanilla creme fraiche, or try red potatoes, leave the skins on, and servec with caviar and sour cream.

Remember, though, that a perfect latke stands on its own, with the simplest of toppings. So we serve ours the traditional way: light, crispy, hot, served with applesauce (homemade) and creme fraiche or sour cream and chives. Anything else is gilding the lily.

Serves 4 (makes 12 latkes)

1 pound russet potato, peeled and coarsely grated
1/2 pound carrots, scrubbed and coarsely grated
1 small yellow onion, peeled and coarsely grated
2 eggs
1/4 cup matzo meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Canola or other neutral cooking oil for frying
Minced chives or scallion greens(optional)
Applesauce for serving
Sour cream or crème fraiche

  1. Line a large platter with several layers of paper towels; set aside.
  2. Combine grated potatoes, carrots and onions in a lint-free kitchen towel. Twist the towel to squeeze out as much water as possible. Transfer vegetables to a second towel and repeat the process. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs, then stir in matzo meal, salt and pepper. Add potatoes, carrots and onions.
  4. Heat 1/4 inch of oil oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drop four scoops of batter, about 1/4 cup each, into pan. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, pressing down gently with a spatula, until golden and crispy. Turn and cook on remaining side for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer latkes to paper-towel lined sheet to drain and repeat with remaining batter. Add additional oil to pan if needed, allowing it to heat again before frying more latkes.
  5. To serve, arrange latkes on a large serving platter. Garnish with chives or scallions, if desired, and serve hot, with applesauce and sour cream or creme fraiche.