Friday, March 9, 2007

Grating Potatoes

I've been on a potato jag lately at the elementary school where I teach kids "food appreciation." Last week, to go with sausages and the sauerkraut we put up in December, we made potato pancakes. But the older kids kept wanting to make them more like the latkes gradma makes, and rejected the idea of adding baking powder. My revenge was to make them peel and grate potatoes a second week. Surprise: the latkes were better than my plain old potato pancakes.

Latkes traditionally are served during Hanukka. But they are also a fun snack to make with kids, especially when served with sour cream and apple sauce. Kids love to operate a peeler and grater and this is a good place to start with kitchen safety. This week I had one 5-year-old boy nick his thumb on the grater. He was utterly mortified and weepy. It took him a half hour to recover.

The appeal of latkes is in the crispy outside, soft potato inside and mild bite of onion, all intensified with a little salt seasoning. Preparation time is quick, but you will need to get one heavy frying pan greasy.

For 12 Latkes

3 medium Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes

1 medium yellow onion

1 large egg, beaten

2 Tbs all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

canola oil

Peel and grate potatoes into a large bowl. Peel and grate onion into potatoes. Transfer potatoes and onions to a colander and, over a sink, press as much liquid out of them as possible. Return potatoes and onions to bowl. Add egg, flour, salt and pepper and mix well.

Meanwhile, pour oil into heavy skillet to a depth of about 1/4 inch. Heat over moderately-high heat until oil is shimmering. Carefully slide spoonfuls of mixture into the oil, flattening with a spoon or spatula. Cook on each side until browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels, then serve warm with applesauce and sour cream.

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