These perfectly crispy potato pancakes are the ideal vehicle for all manner of toppings, making them a super-versatile appetizer pick. We kept our latkes light and crisp by removing as much water as possible from the shredded potatoes.
First, we wrung them out in a dish towel and then we microwaved the shreds, which caused the starches in the potatoes to form a gel. This took care of any remaining water. This also meant that our latkes absorbed minimal oil, so they didn't get greasy.
We prefer shredding the potatoes on the large holes of a box grater, but you can also use the large shredding disk of a food processor; cut the potatoes into 2-inch lengths first so you are left with short shreds.
Serve with applesauce, sour cream, smoked salmon, or caviar.
Start to finish: 45 minutes
2 pounds russet potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, and shredded
1/2 cup grated onion
Salt and pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
Adjust oven rack to middle position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 200 F. Toss potatoes, onion and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl. Place half of mixture in center of dish towel. Gather ends together and twist tightly to drain as much liquid as possible, reserving liquid in liquid measuring cup.
Transfer drained mixture to second bowl and repeat process with remaining mixture. Set potato liquid aside and let stand so starch settles to bottom, at least 5 minutes.
Cover mixture and microwave until just warmed through but not hot, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring with fork every 30 seconds. Spread mixture evenly over second rimmed baking sheet and let cool for 10 minutes. Don't wash bowl.
Pour off water from reserved potato liquid, leaving potato starch in measuring cup. Add eggs and stir until smooth. Return cooled potato mixture to bowl. Add parsley, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and potato starch mixture and toss until evenly combined.
Set wire rack in clean rimmed baking sheet and line with triple layer of paper towels. Add oil to 12-inch skillet until it measures about 1/4 inch deep and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking (350 F). Place 1/4-cup mound of potato mixture in oil and press with nonstick spatula into 1/3-inch-thick disk. Repeat until 5 latkes are in pan. Cook, adjusting heat so fat bubbles around latke edges, until golden brown on bottom, about 3 minutes.
Turn and continue cooking until golden brown on second side, about 3 minutes longer. Drain on paper towels and transfer to baking sheet in oven. Repeat with remaining potato mixture, adding oil to maintain 1/4-inch depth and returning oil to 350 F between batches. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
To make ahead: Cooled latkes can be covered loosely with plastic wrap and held at room temperature for up to 4 hours, or frozen on baking sheet until firm, transferred to zipper-lock bag, and frozen for up to 1 month. Reheat latkes in 375-degree oven until crisp and hot, 3 minutes per side for room-temperature and 6 minutes per side for frozen.
Nutrition information per serving: 280 calories; 88 calories from fat; 10 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 108 mg cholesterol; 324 mg sodium; 42 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 8 g protein.