Happy Chanukah: Adam and Maxine Rapoport's Potato Latkes (Potato Pancakes)from Bon Appetit Magazine!

The other day I stumbled upon the latke line-up for the Fourth Annual Latke Festival (and I nearly boarded a plane bound for LaGuardia airport). My mouth started to water and I swear I could almost taste those latkes made by some of the best restaurants in New York City. But (now) I live 1,800 miles from Brooklyn, and since flying in for a latke festival seems a bit extravagant, I thought about organizing a latke-swap right here in Denver. 

We could have all kinds of latkes: sweet potato, leek, yam & carrot, curried latkes. Oh, and the toppings...we could really go nuts!  But maybe I was getting ahead of myself. I decided that before taking on a more inventive latke menu I should master "the classic" first. 

I took out my most recent copy of Bon Appetit and there it was: the most perfect looking latke. The recipe was from Adam Rapoport's mother Maxine, and since Adam is the current editor of publication I figured it had to be good. It was. 

The latkes cooked evenly on both sides and they were perfectly crisp. There was not a bit of sogginess or unwanted oiliness. I made the recipe just as it was written, minus the optional schmaltz. (For those of you who don't know, schmaltz is rendered chicken fat. I have vivid memories of my father cutting fresh challah bread, slathering it with schmaltz, and then topping it with salt. It was part of our family's Friday night shabbat ritual until 1985 when some suggested that rendered chicken fat wasn't good for you, then my mother abruptly stopped serving it. I think it took my father years to recover emotionally; he really loved that schmaltz!)

But anyway, back to the latkes. They are really simple to make and they are the best latkes I've ever been able to make at home. We serve it with applesauce and sour cream!

Happy Chanukah!

xo, Batya

Adam and Maxine's Famous Latkes

Russets are ideal for latkes. Their high starch content means you won't need flour to bind the pancakes. The result? More potato, and a crunchy (not cakey) texture.

(Courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine

Makes 24


3 pounds large russet potatoes (4-6)

1 medium Vidalia, yellow, or brown onions (about 2)

2 large eggs

1/4 cup fine plain dried breadcrumbs

3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2-4 tablespoons (or more) vegetable oil

2 tablespoons (or more) schmaltz (chicken fat; optional)


Sour cream


Preheat oven to 325°. Peel potatoes. Using the large holes of a box grater or the grater disk on a food processor, grate potatoes and onions. {I use the box grater for the potatoes and the food processor grating dish for the onions.} Transfer to a large kitchen towel. Gather ends of towel; twist over sink and squeeze firmly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Open towel; toss mixture to loosen. Gather towel; wring out once more.

Whisk eggs, breadcrumbs, salt, baking powder, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. Add potato mixture. Using your fingers, mix until well coated. (Latke mixture should be wet and thick, not soupy.)

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Set a wire rack inside another large rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons schmaltz, if using, and 2 tablespoons oil (or 4 tablespoons oil if not using schmaltz; fat should measure about 1/8 inches) in a 12 inches nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Drop a small amount of latke mixture into pan. If the fat sizzles around the edges, it's ready. (Do not let fat smoke.)

Working in batches and adding more schmaltz and oil to skillet as needed to maintain 1/8 inches fat, drop large spoonfuls of mixture into pan, pressing gently with the back of a spoon or spatula to flatten slightly. (If mixture becomes watery between batches, mix to incorporate; do not drain.)

Cook latkes, occasionally rotating pan for even browning, until golden brown and cooked through, 2 1/2-3 minutes per side. (If small pieces of potato floating in the oil start to burn, carefully strain out.)

Transfer latkes to paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain, then transfer to prepared wire rack. Place sheet with latkes in oven to keep warm and crisp while cooking remaining latkes.

Serve warm latkes with applesauce and sour cream.

Here are some vegetarian options from the Fourth Annual Potato Latke Festival in Brooklyn: 

  • Potato Latke with Fontina, Apple, and Truffles from A Voce.
  • Potato, Yam & Carrot Latke with Honey, Preserved Lemons & Yogurt Sauce from Balaboosta
  • Potato Pancakes with Vanilla Applesauce and Schmaltzy Onions from Blue Ribbon Brooklyn
  • Laid Back Latke with Deviled Egg and Red Onion, Parsley and Black Olive Relish from Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola
  • Spud Maccabee with Pickled Fennel Jam, Butternut Squash, and Crème Fraîche from The Farm on Adderley
  • Magic Mushroom Cakes: Traditional Potato Pancakes made with Mushrooms & Onions and topped with Porcini Mushroom Sauce and Cranberry-Apple Sauce from Norma's
  • Duo of Potato Latke with Balsamic Lemon Crème Fraiche, Fresh Shaved Black Truffles and Micro Green Salad from Veselka