John’s Traditional Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

Makes about 12–14 pancakes

Each year my husband, John Rudolph, makes these classic potato pancakes. Use a good, locally grown Maine potato (medium starch), and, if possible, forget about cholesterol and all those other health warnings that are so firmly planted in your head. If you get the oil nice and hot (but not burning), the pancakes will be golden brown on the outside with relatively little grease. Serve with sour cream, horseradish and applesauce. The pancakes are also delicious served with smoked trout or salmon, and dill sprigs.


6 medium potatoes, peeled

1 egg

About ½ teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Generous 1 tablespoon flour

Safflower or canola oil


1. Using a food processor or a hand-held grater, grate the potatoes finely. Place in bowl and let sit 5 minutes. Remove some of the starchy liquid that forms in the bowl. 

2. Whisk the egg and add to the potatoes. Add the salt and pepper—generously. Add the flour and stir gently to incorporate all the ingredients. 

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet (with at least 2-inch-high sides to protect you from hot oil splatter) over high heat. The oil is hot enough when you add a speck of flour and it immediately sizzles up without burning. If the flour seems to burn, reduce the heat a bit. If the flour doesn’t sizzle right up, let the oil get hotter. 

4. Add about 2 tablespoons of pancake batter to the hot oil. Add several other pancakes, being careful not to crowd the skillet, and cook about 3 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown on both sides. Test one (lucky you), and make sure it is hot and cooked through to the middle. Repeat with the remaining batter. 

5. Drain the latkes on paper towels or thick paper grocery-store bags. If you’re not serving the latkes right away, keep them warm in a low 250°F oven. Serve hot.

Categories: Food & Recipes, Main Dishes