From Nonna's Kitchen: Mimi Jo's Crispy Potato Latkes

It seems that as soon as we clear the dishes from the Thanksgiving table, it's time to set up for the next round of holidays.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday send us straight into present buying mode and in the blink of an eye, Chanukah and Christmas are here.

For Christmas, there are a host of foods I make as an Italian and also as a Catholic that represent and honor our traditions of celebration.  For Jewish people, it is very much the same.  My amazingly talented website designer, Jen was generous enough to offer up her mom JoAnn as a great resource.  JoAnn was a caterer for many years on Long Island.  A true entrepreneur, she started a baking business with her friend and grew a full scale catering company from her home kitchen.  ‘You Take The Cake, Desserts To Die For’ was successful and allowed JoAnn be a full time mom AND a respected business woman.  Spending time in JoAnn’s very functional NYC kitchen kind of transported me back to high school.  I felt like I was hanging at my girlfriend’s house with her super cool mom. 

For Chanukah, Jewish people serve a number of dishes.  One very popular side dish is potato latkes.  As JoAnn explained, Chanukah is a time to honor the oil that burned for eight days.  So, traditionally, Jewish people will serve foods cooked in oil.  Potato latkes are a small cake of potato and onion fried in oil and served with sour cream and applesauce.  Since I have never met a potato I didn’t like, I knew I was in for a treat.

Cooking with a professional caterer is so educational.  JoAnn has a wealth of knowledge about great cooking and short cuts to get the job done.  For one, after she shreds the potato and onion, instead of struggling with cheesecloth to remove the excess water, she puts the mixture in her salad spinner.  Genius!  All the water is removed and you can quickly move on to the next step.

Another great tip is when frying foods; use brown paper bags from the grocery store to collect excess grease.  The food will not stick to the bags and you are left with a nice, crispy product.  No one wants a soggy latke!

JoAnn serves these latkes to her two little granddaughters Mollie and Vivi with Motts applesauce.  They lovingly refer to her as ‘Mimi’ and she was so excited to report she has another little grandbaby on the way. 

These latkes are so good I plan on making them all the time.  JoAnn makes large batches and freezes the extra.  She reheats them in the oven at 375 degrees when anyone has a craving.  Now that’s a good Bubbe!

Mimi JoAnn’s Potato Latkes


Prep time:         Total time: 

3 Yukon Gold Potatoes (2 lbs) peeled
1 medium onion
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons matzo meal
3 teaspoons kosher salt, JoAnn uses David’s
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup canola oil

  1. Cut potatoes and onion to fit into the feeder tube of the food processor.  With the grating disc, grate all potato and onion.  Working in batches, spin the potato and onion mix in a salad spinner to remove all excess water.  You can also use cheesecloth.
  2. Once dry, place mix in a large mixing bowl and add beaten egg, matzo meal, salt, and pepper.  Mix until combined.  If mixture is dry, add another egg.  If still watery, add another tablespoon of matzo meal.
  3. In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil until it simmers.  Using a 3 T ice cream scoop, drop mix into the hot oil and flatten with a fork to form a round pancake.
  4. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the potato is golden brown, flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.  If latke is cooking too quickly, lower heat.  Remove to a brown paper bag to drain.  Serve with apple sauce and/or sour cream.

**For frozen latkes: Place on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.