Last night my family gathered for the annual Hanukkah latke-palooza, and I provided the star of the show. I’m focusing on Weight Watchers again, so on Saturday night I made a quadruple-batch of Less-Oil Latkes—Stephen, Harry and I feasted on some that night, and we shlepped the rest to Long Island for the shindig yesterday. It worked perfectly. If I do say so myself, I’ve really got this down to a science now.
I’ll warn you right up front: If you don’t have a giant mixing bowl, two large skillets, and at least three rimmed baking sheets and cooling racks, you’ll have some trouble pulling this off. A quadruple-recipe makes a LOT of batter. By the time you’re done you’ll feel like you’ve just performed a ballet/highwire act/dinner rush at the Shake Shack.
- Ask for help with the peeling! Stephen was dozing when I started and I didn’t want to wake him, and boy do I regret that. My peeler was none too happy either: The next day the blade flat-out refused to peel an apple. I think I wore it out!
- If you’re planning to reheat the latkes, don’t bake them all the way through the first night—you’ll want to leave yourself some wiggle room for reheating.
- Allow the latkes to cool completely, flat on the cooling racks, before packing them up—layer them too soon and they’ll sog right up. If you’re making these well in advance, pop them into the freezer while still on the racks, and transfer to air-tight packaging once they’re frozen solid.
- Expect this to take anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours from beginning to end. Making this many latkes is no small project.
- To reheat, set oven to 350°F. Lay the latkes, without overlapping, on cooling racks inside baking sheets. This way the hot air can circulate all around. After about 15 minutes (30 minutes from frozen) they should be perfect.
Less-Oil Latkes for a Crowd
Makes about 60 pancakes
Weight Watchers: these are 2 PointsPlus each
7.5 lbs potatoes, peeled
5 medium onions
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying
Applesauce or sour cream for serving
- Using the shredder disc of a food processor, shred the potatoes and onion in batches and transfer to a very large bowl of ice water. Let them soak for 30 minutes. [If you’re pressed for time, you can skip the soak and just go right to the next step.] Preheat the oven to 475°F and set racks to upper & lower thirds.
- Transfer the mixture to a large colander; squeeze to press out as much liquid as possible, then transfer some to a clean kitchen towel, roll it up, and squeeze with all your might. You want this to be as dry as possible so the potatoes will crisp up as soon as they hit the hot oil. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat until all the vegetables are squeezed dry. Stir in the eggs, salt, flour, and baking powder—I found it easiest to use my clean hands.
- Pull out three rimmed baking sheets and lay a cooling rack inside each. Set them near the stove. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in each of two cast-iron or nonstick skillets, and when it’s nearly smoking use two soupspoons to drop in about 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture at a time. Flatten lightly with the back of a spatula, and cook just until it’s firm enough to flip, around 2 minutes. Cook on the other side for 2 minutes more, then transfer to one of the prepared baking sheets. Drizzle a bit of oil into the pan if it looks too dry; you shouldn’t need more than an additional tablespoon at a time.
- Once you’ve filled one baking sheet, place it on the upper rack in the oven and move on to the next. When the next one’s ready to go in, transfer the first to the lower rack. Each baking sheet should be in the oven for 15-20 minutes total, until latkes are browned and crisp, and the timing should work that as soon as one is ready to come out, the next one is loaded and ready to go in. It’s a bit of a juggling act, but you’ll find your rhythm.
- Serve with applesauce or sour cream.
MAKE BABY FOOD: The insides should be soft enough for a baby on chunky purees to handle, and cut-up latkes make fine finger food. Applesauce and sour cream, of course, are perfect for the earliest eaters.