Latke Battle: Russet Versus Yukon Gold

My brother came over for lunch today and brought by the makings of a wonderful latke feast.

We didn't have latkes. By the time we got through with the rest of the food, we were far too full. He kindly left me with potatoes, oil, sour cream, applesauce, and everything else I needed on the condition that I blog about which type of potato was better for latkes: russet or Yukon Gold. He left me with plenty of both.

So, latkes were made for dinner... along with kosher hot dogs and homemade coleslaw (leftover from lunch) wrapped in injera. It was some sort of strange Jewish-Ethiopian Fusion dinner... which, I suppose, isn't nearly as strange as it could be... It was also pretty tasty.

I made up two batches of latkes, identical but for the type of potato used. The basic recipe I used follows:

2 lbs potatoes, grated
1 med onion, quartered and sliced
1 shallot, halved and sliced
4 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon corn meal
2 teaspoons salt
a pinch of baking powder
Whatever spices you want. I encourage you to go crazy and use star anise or something, but you'll probably just use black pepper. Could I convince you to give allspice a try, maybe? It will work well with the applesauce.

I just mixed everything together and fried the latkes up. You want to use a ton of oil for latkes. You should be able to get a good idea of how much I used from the picture above.

The results were good, and a little surprising to me. Visually, the two potatoes produced fairly similar latkes:

The Yukon Gold had a bit more of a yellow color to them, but other than that I couldn't really tell them apart by sight. I am generally a fan of Yukon Gold potatoes, but I was worried that they wouldn't fry up as nicely as the Russets (of which I am less of a fan). The consistency of the two latkes, though, was remarkably similar. They each had a crispy browned outside and a creamy inside that tasted strongly of potato.

The Russet potato had nostalgia going for it. These were the latkes that I grew up eating. Angela thought they paired better with the applesauce than the Yukon Gold did, and I think I have to agree with her. Their taste plays off of the sweetness well. The Yukon Gold made a good, solid latke that I can't find any fault with... but holiday foods in general are tremendously caught up in nostalgia, and I found myself unable to judge what latke was best on its own merits. I kept coming back to the fact that the Russet tasted more like a latke to me.

As much as it pains me, I have to give victory to the Russet.

What kind of potato do you use for latkes?

Alternate answers such as, "I don't use potatoes at all, I make beet+turnip latkes," are more than acceptable.

Comments

We did yukon gold. One thing I've noticed over the years is that the yukon gold ones are the best *right* out of the oil, while the russets still taste just as good if they've been on a plate for a bit. Purely subjective, but it's an important factor.

I don't think I've ever made them, except maybe once, but the recipe looks nice so maybe I'll have to try again.

I was wondering if you use the starch trick? It's pretty simple. Let the potatoes drain for an hour or two into a bowl. Wait until the potato starch settles to the bottom of the bowl (liquid will be clear). Pour the liquid off the top of the bowl. Return the potato starch to the potatoes and omit the flour from the above recipe. Oh, and you might want to substitute in matzo meal for the corn meal, if you can find it.

Stuart Broz's picture

Since I used the flour, I obviously didn't use the starch-thing. I've done something similar in the past, but I don't really see the benefit in terms of taste/texture. I haven't done a side-by-side comparison there, but I suspect that, if anything, I'd like the texture of the flour+baking powder more. It seems to be a trade-off of a couple of hours of time in order to save a couple of tablespoons of flour.

I didn't have any matzo meal around, but I've used it in the past. Corn meal works well, though. Last year (?) I made corn latkes, and they were pretty awesome.

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