The Latke Brigade

Every Hanukkah, women gather in the kitchen of Waterville’s Beth Israel synagogue to make “more potato pancakes than anyone would ever want to eat today,” as Wendy Miller fondly recalls. Her mother, Gisele Miller, took charge of the “latke brigade” from the 1950s until her death (on the first night of Hanukkah) in 1997.

Gisele’s Potato Pancake (Latke) Recipe

as shared by her daughter, Julie Miller-Soros

10 medium-sized potatoes (I use Yukon Gold – she used MAINE Potatoes)
2 small-medium onions
1 plus tsp. salt
1/2 plus tsp. pepper
6 tbls. Matzo Meal (not flour – matzo meal)
4 eggs
Vegetable oil (she used Wesson Veg. Oil – I use Canola Oil)

1. Peel the Potatoes (Put them in a bowl covered with COLD Water)

2. Grate By Hand NOT in a Cuisinart food processor – By HAND – Use the largest holes on the grater as they make better latkes according to Gisele

3.Peel the onions and grate them into the same bowl as the potatoes

4. Liquid collects in the bowl – Squeeze the liquid out as you do not want it because it is too starchy

5.  Beat the eggs in another bowl and then add the eggs to the potato/onion mixture

6.  Add the matzo meal, salt and pepper and mix well

7.  Heat the Large frying pan – HOT- with oil

8.  Pour enough oil in the large frying pan so it is about 1.4 inch thick (Gisele meant deep but she said thick).  Heat the oil medium to medium high.  With your clean hands squish mixture into latke shape and put into frying pan.  Push it down a little and put several latke mixtures into the pan:  as many as fit in the pan.  Try to wait to turn them over only one time as Gisele said they are better if turned only once!  You turn them when the edges start to brown.  You can see this.  Do this as many times as it takes until mixture is finished. (You will need to add more oil each time you add more latkes.)

9.  When you take latkes out of pan, put them on a tray that is lined with paper towels to absorb some of the greasy oil.

If eating right away, keep them warm in the oven.  If freezing for the latke party, let them cool and then freeze them.