July 14, 2024
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July 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

People often think about eating latkes—too often, for some people—but not a lot of people think about how much sweat and tears go into making thousands of latkes four at a time. A lot of tears, it turns out, because you have to grate onions.

So here is a recipe, cobbled together from various other published recipes just enough for the numbers I give to be useless so I don’t infringe on any major copyrights. For example, one recipe I saw said to use five potatoes and one onion, and another said to use 10 potatoes and two onions. It was the same recipe. So to not get into any shaylos here, I would say to use either five potatoes and two onions or 10 potatoes and one onion, or even one potato and 10 onions.

Point is, this recipe is for educational reasons only. The idea here is so that people should know what you’re going through in the kitchen, and that you’re not just taking a potato and hammering it into the shape of a latke. Also, making this recipe can be hazardous to your health. On the other hand, making latkes altogether can be hazardous to your health. It’s a fatty food made from potatoes deep-fried in splattering oil in a room full of onion fumes with a slippery floor. So do what you want. Just don’t come crying to me if you used the 10-onion version and it didn’t work out.

You will need:

1 gross of potatoes. Most potato snobs prefer russets.

1 hammer

1 large onion (Note that the word “large” is subjective, and cookbooks are very vague about what they consider to be a large onion.)

3-12 eggs, raw

5/16 cup all-purpose flour. Some use whole-wheat flour for healthy latkes, or because they have something against all-purpose flour, such as that they call it “all-purpose flour,” but you mostly can just use it for cooking. You can’t, say, use it to powder a baby.

Salt and pepper to taste. Actually, while we’re at it, why not just do everything to taste? Who needs cookbooks?

Frying oil or rendered chicken fat. If chicken fat isn’t already rendered, then for goodness sakes render it.

6 rolls paper towels

Shoes or oven mitts. Do not fry barefoot.

1 signed permission slip from your doctor

First aid kit



  1. Remove all batteries from the smoke alarm, using the hammer. This will make the entire process even less safe, so have someone stand behind you with a fire extinguisher. Don’t make any sudden moves, or he’ll spray you.
  2. Fill a pan with oil at least ankle deep. Turn on the flame and start heating it.
  3. While the oil is heating, peel the potatoes. Or don’t. You’re grating them and then frying them until they’re brown. Who’s gonna know?
  4. Grate the potatoes by feeding them, one at a time, through the top of a food processor. Some people prefer to use a hand grater, like the Chashmonaim did way back before we discovered potatoes. The main difference, as far as we can tell, is that a food processor processes your food, while a hand grater grates your hand. There’s also the time factor.
  5. For the crispiest latkes, you want the potato shreds to be as dry as possible. Squeeze out as much potato water as you can, using a cheesecloth (l’kovod Chanukah), or, if you’re feeding an army, a reasonably clean bath towel. No amount of squeezing is too much here. You can even put the towel in the driveway and back your car over it.
  6. Turn down the oil, because this whole potato process is taking too long.
  7. Peel your onion. If you’ve never peeled an onion before, what you do is you take off the top layer, and then possibly the next layer, and then the next, until you get to the middle and realize that it’s empty. (“Where’s the onion?”) This is why you should start with a large onion. This is why Hashem made the outside few layers a different color so you’d have some idea of when to stop peeling.
  8. Shred onion with a food processor or hand grater, and add to potatoes.
  9. Wipe tears with the paper towels.
  10. Crack open eggs, one at a time (so not all at once) and check for blood spots or shells or any small, dinky prizes. Add to mixture.
  11. Also add flour, salt, pepper and note from doctor. Now you’re ready for frying!
  12. Wait, you forgot to reheat the oil.
  13. Test oil to see if it’s hot enough. The most common way to do this is to splash in a few droplets of water. If they make a cool “Tssss” noise, it’s ready. But make sure to use only a few droplets. If you pour in a significant amount of water, you will send up a fireball, and the guy behind you will react with the fire extinguisher.
  14. Start the frying process with a test latke to see if all your measurements are right. If they’re not, make some adjustments and run another test latke. Then another. And so on.
  15. Make a new batch for everyone else. Start with a test latke.
  16. When you see browning around the edges, flip the latkes.
  17. With a spatula, genius.
  18. When a latke is done, put it on a cooling rack while you put a new one in the pan, then transfer it onto 18 layers of paper towels.
  19. Serve with paper towels, applesauce, sour cream and a large refreshing glass of potato water.
  20. Your house should smell like latkes for 12 hours. And be slightly out of focus. Your eyebrows should grow back by Purim.

By Mordechai Schmutter

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has six books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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