David (The Latke King) Firestone’s Latkes (In His Own Words)
Every year around Chanukah, David ’The Latke King” Firestone, a journalist, gives a party in honor of the latke in his home in Sunnyside, Queens. “The country tosses nervously in its bed each night, moaning vaguely for potatoes, fried potatoes, throw in a little onion, please. It wakes up instead to cold cereal and baked beans, a corroded economy and a failed national promise,” read the announcement of one year’s party. “The Latke King knows what you need. The Latke King knows what this country needs. Sadly only a portion of the country can fit into our home in Queens,” the invitation continued. For those who can’t fit into his home, The Latke King offers this formula.
Total Timeunder 1 hour
Recipe Coursehot appetizer, main course
Taste and Texturecrisp, fruity, herby, savory
- 2½ pounds Idaho baking potatoes, unpeeled
- 1 large yellow onion, quartered
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup matzoh meal
- 4 to 5 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 to 3 cups olive oil
- 1 large jar (16 ounces) unsweetened applesauce
Pick up the potatoes and admire their heft, their pure starchiness. Then scrub them with a brush.
Place the onion in a food processor. Pulse the blade a few times until the onion is diced into crunchy bits. Remove the blade and scrape the onion bits into a small bowl. Return the food processor bowl to the machine. No need to wash it yet.
Cut the potatoes lengthwise to fit in the food processor feed tube. Find the medium-coarse food processor shredding disk, which you’ve never used. Put it into the machine and turn it on. Begin feeding the potato slices into the machine.
When the potatoes are shredded, put them in a colander over a large bowl. Dump in the onion bits and mix everything around with your hands, squeezing the potato moisture out as you work. Let the mixture drip for a few minutes while you put on a recording of Kitty Carlisle singing “Beat Out That Rhythm on a Drum.”
Pour out the potato liquid from the bowl, but leave the starch that clings to the bowl. This is good for you. Dump in the shredded potato and onion mix. Add the eggs, the matzoh meal, the parsley, the salt, and the pepper. Stir the mixture eagerly. Then let it sit for about 10 minutes.
In a large cast-iron skillet, pour in ¼ inch of oil. Over high heat, get the oil very hot, but don’t set off the smoke detector. Using a ¼-cup measure or a long-handled serving spoon, start spooning the batter into the skillet. Flatten each with a metal spatula to a diameter of 4 to 5 inches. Do not try to make the latkes uniformly round. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the latkes until golden brown on one side. Then turn over and fry them some more. When crispy on the outside and moist inside, about 5 minutes per Side, remove and place on several thicknesses of paper towels. Keep doing this until you run out of batter.
Remove from the room anyone who prefers latkes with sour cream. Serve the latkes immediately, with applesauce.
1992 Molly O'Neill