Happy Hanukkah Jewfolk! Let’s talk latkes and let’s get real. We all love them, but we hate to make them. We love the smell of freshly fried latkes, but we hate the smell that permeates every nook and cranny of our homes for many more than 8 nights. We love the traditions associated with mincing onions, grating potatoes, getting burned by splashes of hot oil, and the maddening amount of paper towels used over the course of this holiday.
I could go on and on…the applesauce, the sour cream, the attempts at new varieties. That time I made cheddar jalapeno latkes, for example. The debate over which potato to get – russets or Yukon golds? Vegetable or canola oil?
You get it. We all get it. Oh wait, I forgot about the mess. The stovetop wipe down, the potato peels that somehow evade the disposal, and that smell that never leaves.
FULL DISCLAIMER: For the record, I love the smell. I love the smell because it reminds me of my Grandma’s house. This was the house where I probably ate my first latke and this was the house where I learned how to make latkes. I’ve stunk up kitchens in Minnetonka, Plymouth, and now Golden Valley – but each and every time my mind is actually in a house on 179th Street in Queens.
There has to be a better way! Traditions are great, but so is evolution. Well, folks – TC Jewfolk to be precise – I have discovered the better way. In the last several months, I have lost over 40 pounds – and I attribute some of that to my newest countertop appliance, the magical Air Fryer. I was late to the game – afraid to have yet another appliance that gets used a few times and then gets buried with the rest. But not my air fryer. Cooking without added fats is a challenge for anyone with taste buds, so the air fryer has saved me. I use it multiple times a week for a variety of things. One of my favorites is making steak fries – delectable potato wedges cooked with absolutely zero oil. It dawned on me a few weeks ago that I could make latkes in my air fryer – without oil, without any mess, and without any guilt for eating more than one.
Let me pause here and acknowledge what you’re thinking – the oil is the key. It’s Hanukkah after all. Good news, my Jewfolk. I use cooking spray to coat everything, so there is technically oil, but at zero calories (and no mess).
Last week, I tried it. I used the standard latke recipe I have used since I started making them myself. And I cannot speak more highly of the results. Crispy outside, soft in the middle.
Here’s my recipe for one batch (made 7-9 medium-sized latkes):
1 large russet potato, grated
1 small onion, minced
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix everything together. Form into patties. Air fry on 400 for 10-12 minutes. Flip the latkes halfway through.
I know some people are purists and some are skeptics (I’m looking at you TC Jewfolk Executive Director). But this guy is living his best Hanukkah life and not even contemplating a return to the ways of old. If you have an air fryer or if you get one for Hanukkah, I urge you to try this method. And really, enjoy your latkes any which way you want – celebrating the holiday is much more important than figuring out how to dispose of a gallon of used cooking oil.