Any way you slice it, latkes and other fritters are an indulgent affair. With this in mind, I thought I may as well take them over-the-top and fry them till lacy and crisp-tender in rich and pleasantly gamy duck fat.
Put simply, this wound up being a very good decision. The complex flavor of the duck fat is subtle, but it makes its presence known, adding a savory note that plays off sweet applesauce and tangy crème fraîche as if they were old friends.
This Hanukkah fry up crisp-tender duck fat-larded latkes.
If you can't find duck fat, substitute chicken shmaltz, lard (if not keeping kosher), or canola oil. A spring-loaded ice cream scoop makes easy work of portioning out the latke batter when frying.
2-1/2 pounds (about 2 large) russet potatoes, peeled
1/2 large yellow onion
2 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Scant 1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
Duck fat, for frying
Flaky sea salt
Applesauce and crème fraîche for serving (optional)
- Grate the potatoes and onion on the largest holes of a cheese grater over a strainer set in a large mixing bowl, alternating between the two so that the onion juices will prevent the grated potato from turning brown.
- Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the potato-onion mixture into the mixing bowl (to make this more manageable do it one handful at a time); put the squeezed potato-onion mixture in a clean bowl.
- Let the liquid settle for a few minutes, then carefully pour off the watery part, leaving behind the starch that has settled at the bottom. Add the potato mixture back in and toss with the starch, egg yolks, flour, salt, pepper, and parsley using clean hands.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then gently fold them into the potato mixture.
- Heat about 3/8-inch of duck fat (make up any difference with canola oil, if necessary) in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, until it is hot enough that it immediately sizzles when a dollop of latke batter is added to the pan.
- Drop the latke batter in the hot oil in roughly 3-tablespoon portions (see recipe note), flattening them slightly into discs with the back of the spoon/ice cream scoop. Fry, flipping when the edges and bottom have turned golden-brown; the total frying time should be 4-5 minutes. Drain on paper towels, blotting off excess grease from the tops and sprinkling with flaky sea salt while still hot.
- To keep the latkes warm while frying the remainder of the batter, place them on a rack set inside a baking sheet in a 250ºF oven.
- Serve with applesauce and crème fraîche, or unadorned.
- Side Dishes, Potato
- Serves 8