I’ve been wanting to try the Vitamix to prepare potatoes and onions for latkes for a long time. An old joke is that the secret to good latkes is a little blood, shed while slaving over a potato grater. Many people use food processors to skip the bloody knuckles, but I was wondering if a Vitamix blender would be up to the task. Short answer: yes! I used the wet-chop technique, which uses water to circulate ingredients past the blades.
This recipe is a rough reconstruction of my Grandma’s, via my Dad.
1 medium onion
5 medium Russet potatoes (~2 lbs)
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp flour
⅛ tsp baking powder (optional)
There’s a fair amount of leeway in the wet-chopping technique. Just don’t leave the blender on for too long and it should come out fine.
I had a Vitamix filtration bag on hand, but if you don’t have one, you can put a cheesecloth or tea towel over a strainer and use that. I also used a wide G-Series Vitamix container—I’m not sure if this amount of potatoes will work as well in a narrower C-Series container. If you want to be on the safe side, you can split the potatoes into two batches. If your machine does not have a pulse switch, you can achieve the same result by quickly flipping the on-off switch up and down.
Peel and quarter the onion. Add to Vitamix container and add ~3 cups of water. The onion should float off the blades. Set to variable speed 5 and pulse ~4 times. Check to make sure it’s well chopped, then pour into filtration bag over a large bowl. Dump the flow-through water, but don’t worry about squeezing the bag yet.
Scrub potatoes (peeling is not necessary), and cut into ~1.5–2″ chunks. Add to Vitamix container and fill to capacity with water (you can safely go a little over the 8 cup line). Unlike onion or cabbage, potatoes will not float. Add 1 Tbsp of salt (optional, but the lore is that this will help the potatoes release more water; it will also season the potatoes, but most of this salt will be poured off with the water). Set to variable speed 5 and pulse potatoes ~8 times. Pour into filtration bag (which already has the chopped onions) over large bowl. If some potato bits stick in container, you can use some more water to rinse them out into the filtration bag.
Squeeze the bag hard to get as much water out of the potato/onion mixture as possible. Set aside the filtration bag, and save the bowl of potato water—we’re going to reclaim the potato starch after it settles out.
In a medium-size second bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then add flour and pepper.
By now you should see a layer of potato starch that has settled to the bottom of the big bowl. Pour off the water and then scrape the starch into the egg bowl.
Squeeze the potato/onion mixture one last time (the potatoes continually release water). Then add shredded potatoes and onion to the egg bowl. Add ⅛ tsp baking powder and mix to incorporate ingredients.
Pour neutral oil into frying pan ~⅛” deep and heat on medium-high heat. Frying temperature should be 350–375°F. You can test it with a small bit of potato to make sure the potato sizzles when it hits the oil.
Scoop out ~¼ cup of the mixture into the oil and and flatten with a spatula. (I used my hands to pack each one together before sliding it into the oil.) Leave plenty of space between latkes so that the oil stays hot. Cook until golden brown, ~5 min, then flip and cook another ~5 min.
If the mixture is too wet and is having trouble holding together, you can add a little more flour.
Prepare a few paper towels on a baking sheet or plate to absorb excess oil when latkes are done. You can either serve them right away, or set your oven to ~200°F to keep them warm as you cook the rest.
Applesauce goes great with latkes. Traditionally it is cooked, but I made a quick raw Vitamix version, which came out nicely.
juice of 1 lemon
cinnamon to taste (~½ tsp)
Quarter and core apples. Blend on speed 3 and use the tamper to push apples into blades. Stop blending once it starts circulating.
Thoughts on Latkes
It seems that there are an infinite number of ways to prepare latkes. Ultimately, they’re mainly fried potatoes, so it’s hard to go wrong. Some people swear by long thin potato shreds made by a food processor’s grating disk that form a “lacy” edge on the latkes. The Vitamix-chopped potatoes are not as long, so you won’t get the same degree of laciness. However, we found the Vitamix latkes to be delicious.
The main point I’d like to convey is that Vitamix blenders are capable of chopping things without completely pulverizing them. You can see that the potatoes still have plenty of texture in the latkes: