Afraid to fry? Don’t worry, frying scares the sh*t out out of us, too. Here are some tips to make it manageable:
- Water is not your friend. When water hits oil it spatters. Keep your hands dry. If the batter gets soggy, squeeze out any drips over the bowl—not over the pan. Wear long sleeves, pants, and closed-toe shoes to protect yourself in case spatters happen.
- If it’s the getting the batter into the pan of hot oil that freaks you out, use a long-handled coffee scoop instead of a tablespoon measure to dole out the batter. If your scoop is a 2 tablespoon measure, the latkes will take a little longer to cook.
- Don’t flip until the latkes are really firm enough to be a solid, flip-able entity. This makes for crispier latkes, and prevents too many little bits from floating around and, eventually, burning.
- If you burn a pan of latkes, or accumulate a whole lot of little burned bits, stop. Carefully pour the oil out into a stainless steel bowl; set aside to cool (later, discard in trash or compost so the oil doesn’t clog your drain). Clean the pan and start again with new oil.
- Using two pans is a lot faster, but also requires a lot of fast flipping action over pans of bubbling oil. If you’re a new fryer start with a single pan. Slow and steady beats oil burns every single time.
- Get help. Oh how I wished I had had a sous chef to squeeze out the batter while I flipped.
Take a deep breath. You've got this.
Can these be made in advance? You can make latkes ahead, clean your kitchen, and serve them another day—after you have had a good long shower and time to air out the oil smell from your house. Here’s how we do it (which is how Jewish Holiday Cookbook author Joan Nathan does it): Cool the latkes on the paper-towel line sheets, remove the paper towels, and freeze the latkes on the trays. Wrap well, or transfer to a container or zip-top bag. To reheat, set the latkes on baking sheets and heat at 450°F until crisp and warmed through.
How do you eat them? So many ways:
- apple sauce
- crème fraiche
- smoked salmon
- chopped dill