4 to 6 servings
About 40 minutes
I love crisp, crunchy potato pancakes (also known as latkes) but they’re a pain to cook one by one. Fortunately there’s potato nik, my grandmother’s clever solution with the mysterious, unexplained name. I figure one nik equals twenty latkes, and you can actually walk away from it for a few minutes while it cooks. Plus, it stays hot for a long time and is delicious warm or at room temperature. For those occasions when you absolutely must have individual latkes, see the first variation. This is delicious served with your choice of sour cream, applesauce, chutney, or hot sauce. Other vegetables you can use: sweet potatoes (cook over slightly lower heat for about 5 minutes less per side); a combination of potatoes and sweet potatoes, carrots, or turnips.
About 2 pounds starchy potatoes (like Idaho or russet), peeled
1 onion, peeled
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs or matzo meal
Salt and pepper
Good-quality vegetable oil
1. Shred the potatoes and onion by hand on the largest holes of a box grater or use the grating disk of a food processor. Drain well in a colander or strainer. Transfer the potatoes and onion to a large bowl and combine with the eggs and bread crumbs; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Put about ⅛ inch oil in a large, deep skillet, preferably nonstick or cast iron, over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the bottom is nicely browned, at least 15 minutes, adjusting the heat so the batter sizzles but doesn’t burn.
3. To turn, slide the cake out onto a large plate, cover with another large plate, and invert the 2 plates together. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary and slide the pancake back in, cooked side up. Cook for another 15 minutes or so, until nicely browned. Serve hot or warm, cut in wedges.
Latkes (Potato Pancakes)
The original: Prepare the potato batter in Step 1 and heat the oil as described in Step 2. When the oil is hot, put large spoonfuls of batter into the pan to form individual pancakes. Cook until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total per pancake. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a 200°F oven until all of the latkes are finished.
Cheesy Potato Pancakes
Not traditional, but irresistible: Add 1 cup grated cheddar, Parmesan, Jack, or Asiago cheese to the batter along with the eggs and crumbs.