I tried Ina Garten's and Martha Stewart's latke recipes, and Garten's buttery potato pancakes won me over

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  • Martha Stewart
    Martha Stewart
    American executive
latke taste test
I made both Ina Garten's (right) and Martha Stewart's latke recipes.Courtesy of Coren Feldman
  • I made both Ina Garten and Martha Stewart's latke recipes to see which one I liked better.

  • I preferred Garten's recipe — the simple ingredients and butter gave them a lighter flavor.

  • Stewart's recipe with oil results in a more classic latke, but they were harder to flip.

Ina Garten and Martha Stewart are both known for their delicious recipes. But whose latkes would prevail?

A composite image of Ina Garten (left) and Martha Stewart.
Ina Garten (left) and Martha Stewart.Andy Kropa/Getty Images, Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates stories of a mighty few overcoming the odds. This year, Hanukkah begins on the evening of November 28.

The holiday commemorates the victory of a small group of Jewish rebels over an enormous Greek army to defend their heritage, and a miraculous amount of oil that burned in their reclaimed Temple's menorah (candelabra) for eight nights instead of one.

Jewish people remember the rebels' victory and the miracle of the long-lasting oil by lighting a menorah for eight nights and eating fried foods.

As someone who has grown up celebrating Hanukkah, I've eaten my fair share of latkes, and was curious to see how two of my favorite celebrity chefs have made the fried potato pancakes their own.

You can read Ina Garten's full latke recipe here and Martha Stewart's full recipe here.

I began with Ina Garten's recipe, which calls for relatively simple ingredients.

The ingredients for Ina Garten's latkes: potatoes, an egg, butter, salt, and pepper.
The ingredients for Ina Garten's latkes.Coren Feldman

The recipe lists potatoes, an egg, flour, salt, and pepper. But I was surprised to find that the recipe called for frying the latkes in clarified butter instead of oil. Eating foods fried in oil is part of Hanukkah tradition, so I was a bit skeptical about this change.

I began by peeling and grating the potatoes, then squeezing out the excess liquid.

A woman grates potatoes.
Grating potatoes.Coren Feldman

I managed to cut myself almost immediately. Grate with caution.

I mixed in the egg, flour, salt, and pepper.

Latke ingredients mixed in a bowl.
Mixing the ingredients.Coren Feldman

The resulting batter had the consistency of oatmeal.

I then started on the clarified butter for frying.

Butter melting in a saucepan.
Melting butter.Coren Feldman

The recipe includes instructions for how to make clarified butter. You can also just buy ghee at a grocery store and skip this step.

Making clarified butter involves melting butter, waiting for milk solids to settle, and skimming them off the top.

Spooning off solids from a saucepan of melted butter.
Making clarified butter.Coren Feldman

It reminded me of skimming the fat off the top of chicken soup. It was easy, but took extra time waiting for the solids to settle.

With the butter all clarified, it was time to fry.

Spooning latke batter into a saucepan for frying.
Frying Ina Garten's latkes.Coren Feldman

Garten's recipe instructs using a tablespoon of the potato mixture for each latke.

The small pancakes finished cooking in minutes, and they were easy to flip.

Latkes in a frying pan.
Ina Garten's latkes in the frying pan.Coren Feldman

I also loved that frying the latkes in butter didn't make my entire apartment and person smell like oil. It's a strong scent that tends to linger. These just smelled mildly like melted butter, which was amazing.

The finished products came out perfectly crispy even though they weren't fried in oil.

A plate of Ina Garten's latkes.
Ina Garten's latkes.Coren Feldman

Because there weren't any other added ingredients to the batter, the potato flavor shone through and the buttery crust was delicious.

Paired with some applesauce — my latke topping of choice — Garten's recipe became the one to beat for me.

A latke made with Ina Garten's recipe topped with applesauce.
A latke topped with applesauce.Coren Feldman

It didn't have the oily taste of a traditional latke, but I actually preferred the milder taste of butter.

Next, I started on Martha Stewart's latke recipe, which called from some extra ingredients.

The ingredients for Martha Stewart's latkes: potatoes, eggs, onion, beer, oil, salt, and pepper.
The ingredients for Martha Stewart's latkes.Coren Feldman

Stewart's recipe involved twice the amount of potatoes and eggs that were in Garten's, as well as additions like grated onion and beer.

I grated the potatoes and squeezed them out with a kitchen towel.

Squeezing starchy water out of grated potatoes with a kitchen towel.
Squeezing out the potatoes.Coren Feldman

Stewart's recipe says to reserve this potato juice, let the milky starch sink to the bottom, and pour off the liquid — similar to the clarified butter I made for Garten's recipe.

I then added the eggs, a grated onion, and a quarter cup of beer.

Pouring beer into a bowl of latke batter.
Adding beer to the latkes.Coren Feldman

Grated onions are standard in latke recipes — beer, not as much. I was curious to see how it would affect the flavor and texture.

After mixing everything, I scooped out half a cup of batter at a time into a pan of hot oil as the recipe instructed.

Flipping latkes in a frying pan.
Making Martha Stewart's latkes.Coren Feldman

The larger latkes took much longer to fry than Garten's, and they were a little more unruly to flip. I'm still trying to get a resulting oil splash out of my favorite jeans.

As that classic oily Hanukkah smell filled the kitchen, I became nostalgic for the latkes of my youth.

Martha Stewart's latkes frying in a frying pan.
Martha Stewart's latkes.Coren Feldman

I could already tell that these latkes were going to be the more traditional of the two.

Stewart's recipe tasted like the standard latke you can get at any Hanukkah party.

A woman eating latkes.
Trying the Martha Stewart latkes.Coren Feldman

I couldn't taste the beer, but the grated onion and the crispy, oily goodness created a sharper flavor that screamed Hanukkah to me.

Personally, I preferred Garten's take on the potato pancake, but Stewart's recipe is great if you're looking for a classic latke.

Ina Garten and Martha Stewart's latkes.
The two latkes side by side.Courtesy of Coren Feldman, Andy Kropa/Getty Images, Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Even though they're not fried in oil — which is kind of the point of eating them on this holiday — I enjoyed Garten's latkes more because they were easier and faster to make, and they had a mild, buttery flavor that I loved. But Stewart's recipe is perfect for traditionalists.

Read the original article on Insider

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