In my mind, there are three tiers of latkes: homemade, deli, and frozen. That is probably most people’s order of preference (despite the sad lack of delis in Minnesota). That is also the order when you take into account which is the least convenient to make. Sometimes, you just have to take the easiest route.
The frozen option may not be the tastiest, but it’s the easiest: heat up the oven, put them on a cookie sheet, bake. Flip them halfway. But which frozen latkes are best?
We found a couple options for frozen latkes: Golden and Trader Joe’s. (Golden may well make the Trader Joe’s brand; that’s not always the easiest thing to find). Golden also has a sweet potato latke so we tossed those into the cart as well. All in the name of science. Or something.
Dining over our array of latkes were an 8, 12 and 13 year old – two of whom are mine and spend too much time watching Food Network shows. So they aren’t embarrassed, they’ll be identified by their ages. The thoughts and opinions are theirs alone. And boy, do they have a lot of each of them.
Sweet Potato Latkes
12: It’s OK. It’s better with applesauce.
13: It’s good with both. It kind of has the texture of the Trader Joe’s sweet potato tater tots. Only flattened.
8: It has a weird aftertaste if you have it plain. It’s really good with the applesauce.
Author’s take: These are good opinions. I’m not an applesauce eater, but it worked with sour cream. It also gave some nice balance between the sweet of the latke and the sour of the sour cream. However, I’m a traditionalist. I want my latke from good, old-fashioned baking potatoes. Even frozen.
Golden and Trader Joe’s Laktes
I’m combining these two because there are definite similarities. The TJ’s are a little bit flatter and a little less uniform in thickness and shape. And again, they may be the same. Any differences (in perception or otherwise), maybe a placebo effect of being told they are different brands.
13: The Golden isn’t the ideal texture to me. It needs to be dipped in something. But not dunked.
12: The Golden is really plain. It’s too dry. Both plain need to be dipped.
8: The Trader Joe’s is my ideal, non-homemade latke.
12: The Trader Joe’s is the most similar to homemade. And it’s definitely better with applesauce.
13: The Trader Joe’s latkes got crisper. The crisper the better.
It was a split decision amongst the kids, with Trader Joe’s taking two votes, and, in somewhat of an upset, sweet potato finishing with one. And even in the case of the other two, the sweet potato didn’t offend anyone. I’d count that as a win.