Would you like to know the key to making really good latkes? Like most things, the devil is in the details. Here’s a quick breakdown of what I think makes my latkes taste so damn good:
I squeeze out as much moisture as I possibly can. We want crispy latkes!
I don’t use traditional flour, I use cornstarch or arrowroot. Just like with my fried chicken, I’ve discovered that using a pure starch instead of flour results in a crispier product.
Make sure the size of the latkes is consistent and your pan is at the right temperature. The potatoes should sizzle loudly when they hit the pan, but there shouldn’t be smoke.
Always make your latkes as close as you can to when you are going to serve them. Chefs refer to the process of waiting til the very last possible minute to do something as “a la minuté”. Just remember though, it’s a fine line between “a la minuté” and procrastination, so have all your supplies ready to go so you can knock this project out when the time is right.
Grate the potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes in a food processor, using the course shredder attachment. Alternately you can use a cheese grater. Once they are shredded, place them in a large bowl of water, agitating them to rinse off the extra starch. Drain the potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes from the water (I’ve started using a salad spinner to get my potatoes even dryer), and working in fistfull sized batches, place the shredded veggies in a clean kitchen towel and twist to squeeze out all excess moisture. Water and latkes do not get along.
Once the veggies are dry, place them in a medium sized bowl and add the egg whites and cornstarch. Mince a quarter cup of onion and add it to the mix. Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Divide into 12 balls and place on a sheet tray.
Heat a griddle or skillet and add a small amount of ghee. Once the ghee has melted start individually pressing the balls between your hands to flatten. I give them another squeeze here over an empty bowl to catch any extra moisture, as the potatoes will continue to leech water. Add the patties to the hot pan, you should hear a sizzle if your pan is at the right temperature. Work in batches so as not to overcrowd your pan. Cook the patties for about 4 minutes then flip and continue to cook on the other side. Adjust the heat if needed, and cook for about 4 more minutes. Both sides should be golden brown. Remove from the pan and lightly blot on a paper towel.
Serve on a platter with cured salmon, creme fraiche, chopped hard boiled eggs and chives.