Recipe for Helen Wallerstein’s potato latkes

Helen Wallerstein’s potato latkes

Makes 24

Among the stories in the book “Recipes Remembered,” by June Feiss Hersh, is one about Helen Wallerstein’s husband Jules, a refugee from Nazi Germany who came to the United States in 1942. Hersh describes Wallerstein’s traditional potato pancakes, often made for Hanukkah, as “latke nirvana.” The metal blade of the food processor produces a creamy batter. No scraped knuckles.

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5 medium russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-inch chunks
1 large onion, cut into 8 pieces
4 eggs, beaten to mix
½ cup matzo meal
teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ cup canola oil, or more if needed (for frying)
1 cup sour cream (for serving)
1 cup applesauce (for serving)

1. Set a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl.

2. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, work the potatoes until they are a creamy texture. Pour the potatoes into the strainer and let the liquid drain into the bowl. With a rubber spatula gently press the potatoes to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard the liquid in the bowl. Add the potato mixture to it.

3. Pulse the onion in the food processor several times until creamy. Add the onion to the potatoes. Stir well. Add the eggs, matzo meal, salt, and pepper.

4. Set the oven at 300 degrees. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven.

5. Spread a layer of paper towels on another baking sheet.

6. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until the surface begins to shimmer. Take 1 tablespoon of the potato mixture and fry in the hot oil for several minutes on a side. Drain on the paper towel; taste the latke and add more salt and pepper to the batter, if you like.

7. Use a tablespoon to drop 6 generous spoons of batter into the skillet. Slightly press them with the back of a spatula. Cook for 4 minutes or until the bottoms are nicely browned.

8. Turn and continue cooking the latkes for 3 minutes or until the bottoms are browned. Transfer to the paper towels to drain, then to the baking sheet in the oven. Continue frying latkes, adding more oil to the pan as necessary. Serve with sour cream and applesauce. Adapted from “Recipes Remembered”

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