Alex Guarnaschelli's Unconventional Method For Perfectly Cooked Latkes - Exclusive

Whether it is Hanukkah or not, latkes are a crowd-pleaser. These delicious potato pancakes combine the best parts of potato, fried food, and just a little seasoning. Making a latke is easy, but making a truly exceptional latke takes skill and technique. 

Many people have recipes passed down to them from generations before, each with a unique way of making them. The same holds true for the latke recipe in Alex Guarnaschelli's new book written with her daughter, Ava Clark, "Cook It Up: Bold Moves for Family Foods." Clark comes from a mixed background of food heritage. The inclusion of Nanny Ida's Potato Latkes is an addition originally from her Jewish father's side. Nanny Ida was Ava Clark's great-grandmother, who originated the recipe that the pair included in their new book. We spoke to Alex Guarnashcelli in an exclusive interview to learn more about their unique cooking method.

While many think of latkes as stove top cooked, Guarnashcelli and Clark take an extra step by placing the still-hot pan, oil and all, into the oven to finish off the baking, perfectly cooking the inside and leaving the signature, crispy golden-brown crust on the outside.

Finish off right

Alex Guarnaschelli explained why this technique is so effective: "We put them in the oven in the hot oil that already has the hot pan and the momentum from the heat[ed] stove top, and we continue that conversation with all-around heat of the oven." Instead of alternatives such as placing them on a baking sheet and then into the oven, placing the whole pan in allows the already hot oil to continue cooking. 

She further explained this method is not to benefit the exterior but more so the interior: "You're looking to cook the interior more than anything and make sure it's cooked through." Pan frying on just the stove top runs the risk of undercooking the latkes in the middle, particularly with a thick potato pancake. For those who love a crispy outside, though, don't worry. That is not a problem. "The crisping happens in the browning in the oil. It's the shallow frying stove top that drives the crispy bus," she said. 

The method detailed in "Cook It Up" gives you the best of both worlds: a browned outside and a perfectly soft interior.

"Cook It Up," by Alex Guarnaschelli and Ava Clark, is available now.