An easy potato recipe that will impress even your little ones

December is the golden season for eating. For Jewish families across America, latkes are a Hanukkah staple. Hashbrowns are Yiddish for the miracle of Hanukkah, where a day's supply of oil in the Temple in Jerusalem was said to last eight miraculous days and nights. So the Jewish way of celebrating the holiday is by eating fried foods like hash browns and jelly donuts under the light of Hanukkah or the menorah (the eight-winged menorah that symbolizes the temple's enduring light).

While every family has their own latkes recipe, and many don't even use a recipe and just improvise from memory and tradition, those who are making latkes for the first time (or maybe the first time in a year, at least) Might want to work from a step by step tutorial. Stop reading the instructions on the back of the box of frozen hash browns and give homemade hash browns a try this winter.

Jeremy Salamon, owner of Agi's Counter, a trendy Jewish and Eastern European restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, first learned to make latkes at a young age from his grandmother, Arlene. “She always made them with matzo meal, and I made the hash browns,” Salamon recalled. Now, as a chef, when he makes the holidays special at the restaurant, he substitutes flour for matzah. “I like my hash browns lighter and felt matzo meal would create a thicker product,” he says. When it comes to potatoes, he's a fan of russets, leaving the skin on before grating "to add texture." Of course, any potato will do. Those who avoid gluten can substitute potato starch for flour in recipes. Those who don't want to grate potatoes by hand or in a food processor can add frozen shredded potatoes.

To fry hash browns, Salamon recommends using a cast-iron skillet. "It heats more evenly than any other pan," he said. A good perforated spatula comes in handy when flipping and serving.

Cooking latkes is pretty simple—they're done in hot oil in less than five minutes. Salamon prefers canola oil. "It has a higher heat resistance than olive oil or anything else," he said. It also has a neutral flavor, meaning the hash browns can be served with sweet or savory toppings, such as applesauce (either natural or sweetened) or sour cream. Salamon serves hash browns at his restaurant with horseradish sour cream sauce, smoked trout roe and dill. At home, he tops hash browns with pickled white anchovies and dill. To enhance the appearance, latkes can be decorated with fresh herbs, creamy elements and savory or sweet elements.

For many people, frying can be the most intimidating part of making latkes. But a little planning goes a long way. While the oil heats, Salamon recommends developing an "exit strategy" for the finished hash browns by placing a wire rack over the pan. This helps excess oil drain from the hash browns and keeps them crispy. If you are making a double or triple batch for a party, preheat the oven to 200 degrees and slide the potatoes onto a sheet pan in the oven when ready. Or, set up a topping station so guests can help themselves to the hot hash browns and serve them when they're ready. "No one likes cold potatoes," Salamon said.

Aggie's counter

Ready to fry up a batch? For four latkes, you will need:

  • 1 pound russet potatoes, grated
  • ¼ pound yellow onion, grated
  • ⅔ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 whole egg, beaten
  • 3 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups canola oil

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the grated potatoes, onion, salt, eggs and flour. Mix well with your hands or a large spoon.

Heat canola oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. You'll know the oil is hot enough if you (carefully) add a drop of water and it sizzles. If the oil starts to smoke, the temperature is too high.

Use a spoon to scoop a mound of potato batter out of the bowl and carefully drop it into the hot oil. Continue adding spoonfuls of potato mixture until skillet is filled with small mounds.

Flatten the hash browns slightly in the oil with a perforated spatula. Fry each side for 2 minutes, flipping with a spatula. Transfer finished hash browns to a wire rack. Your hash browns should be crispy and golden brown.

Continue to fry the remaining batter. Transfer immediately to a plate and garnish with your toppings if desired.


Jeremy Salamon, chef and owner of Agi's Counter