Recipe from Thea Riesel
In her 90s, Thea Riesel is still cooking potato latkes for her Sydney family. Her sons only regret is that she no longer makes them every Wednesday night, as she did when they were growing up.
Latkes is perhaps the classic Eastern European vegetable dish. But there are lots of arguments. Peeled or unpeeled potatoes? Coarsely or finely grated? Thick and pillowy vs thin and crispy? Sweet toppings (America) vs savoury (the rest of the world)?
This is Thea's version, and the tasty way she resolves all these issues. Her latkes are on the thicker side, crisp on the outside, creamy inside and incredibly tasty for so few ingredients.
- 1 ½ - 2 kilos potatoes. Thea says to use old potatoes, the older the better. "In Europe we used the old, old ones, that had been under the house since the last winter. We can’t get them like that here."
- 1 onion
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup breadcrumbs or matza meal. Best to start with ½ cup and then keep adding.
- Salt and pepper
1. Thea peels the potatoes. Her daughter-in-law doesn't, so we do one lot peeled, and one unpeeled, and both are fine. They do look more uniform if you peel them, but you can cut this step out to save time.
2. Grate. By hand? Or use the machine? Thea maintains that grating by hand produces a better latke – and other grandmothers agree. It is however much more work, and to save her grandchildren’s elbow grease, Thea agreed to put them through the food processor, using a fine grater.
3. Grate the onion the same way, then transfer the lot to a bowl.
4. Let stand until liquid forms, then squeeze the potato-onion mix to drain.
5. Add the eggs, and the salt and pepper and mix. Add half a cup of breadcrumbs, and mix again. Keep adding until the mixture is no longer sloppy. You may find if you didn't squeeze out enough water earlier, you will have to squeeze the mixture out again, or add more bread crumbs. Both options are fine.
6. Form into small oval shaped patties, the size of your palm, and deep fry in a neutral vegetable oil. Turn over once, and then drain on paper towels.
Best hot, straight out of the pan. Otherwise, eat warm.