Family Recipes: Mollie’s Latkes

latkes pan

I’ve come to realize that many of us have been bequeathed a cherished family recipe. Be it simple or elaborate to prepare, it’s a dish so fiendishly delicious that it is the unmistakable star of the family meal, whether celebrating triumphs, comforting woes, or keeping family traditions alive. Withholding such heirloom recipes from the world seems almost cruel. Hence, I am championing the family recipe. I will entice the people in my universe to share favourite, nostalgia-infused family recipes, and I will give one of them centre stage in this very space on a monthly basis. In the end, we are all family, and these recipes represent the legacies of our shared passions. This month’s post is written by my good friend Lee Zimmerman. Enjoy!

By Lee Zimmerman

How to make latkes like my Grandma Mollie? Well, you need some skin in the game, for starters.

Mollie didn’t know from food processors. “You wanna make latkes, then all you need is a grater.” That was her first rule. Her second rule? “It’s not real latkes if a bit of your knuckle skin doesn’t end up in the potato mix, from all the grating.” (Miss you, Grandma. They don’t make ’em like you anymore.)

If you’ve been to a goyishe deli (think: Pickle Barrel) and ordered the monstrosity that they call latkes, then you probably think you hate latkes. Because those dry, tasteless…lumps consisting of one part potato/onion and three parts wood chips or whatever syphilitic goop they use as filler are to latkes what Donald Trump is to presidential.

Latkes (real latkes) need to be moist, they need to be thin, and (and I can’t stress this last part enough) they need to be greasy.

So here’s what you need:

A bunch of these,

one of these
and one of these.
Oh and the egg should be free-range, because…well, because.



Makes about a dozen latkes

5 medium-to-large potatoes
1 medium yellow onion
1 egg
1/3 cup of either bread crumbs, matzoh meal or flour
Grapeseed or canola oil (enough for a quarter inch in the skillet)
2 or 3 knuckle-sized bandages


Grate the potatoes (they should be finely grated, so use the side of the grater with the second smallest holes).

Salt the grated potatoes and let sit for about five minutes in the mixing bowl. Then, knead the grated potatoes to squeeze out all excess liquid. Next, grate the onion and mix in with the potatoes, along with the egg and the flour or crumbs.


Pour the oil into the skillet and heat on high. Once the oil is nice and hot, take an oversized, heaping tablespoon of the mixture and place in the oil, immediately pressing it into the pan in order to expand and flatten it somewhat. A large pan should be able to accommodate at least four latkes at a time. Carefully (to avoid splatter) flip each latke when the outer edges start to get crispy and brown. After a few minutes, reduce heat to medium high. Remove the latkes onto a sheet of paper towel when they are golden brown on each side.


Serve as a side dish, or on their own with a dollop of sour cream or apple sauce.


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