Molten Cheddar oozes out of the centers of these crisp-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside latkes, making them more substantial. Don’t skip the step of squeezing out excess liquid from the potatoes (opt for Idaho or Russet) and onions; it helps make the latkes crisp.
For the applesauce
5-1/2 cups coarsely chopped peeled, tart apples, such as Granny Smith
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. apple cider
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 Tbs. fresh-squeezed, strained lemon juice
1/4 plus 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
For the latkes
2 lbs. peeled baking potatoes such as Idaho or Russet, grated
1 cup finely chopped white onions
2 cups grated mild Cheddar
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour or matzoh meal
2 large eggs, beaten
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
8 grinds black pepper
About 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. vegetable oil, for frying
Sour cream, for serving (optional)
Make the applesauce
Add all of the ingredients to a medium-sized, heavy saucepan; stir, then bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the apples become very soft, about 10 minutes. Mash with a potato masher and set aside.
Make the latkes
Place the grated potatoes and onions on a large, clean kitchen towel. Gather the sides into the middle, roll up the towel, and squeeze the mixture over the sink to remove any excess liquid. Transfer the grated, drained potato-onion mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the Cheddar, flour, eggs, salt, and pepper.
Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a 10-inch, heavy, nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add five 1/4-cupfuls of the batter, flattening each circle a bit with a nonstick spatula. Cook until the first side is golden brown and crisp, about 3-1/2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until also golden brown and crisp, about another 3-1/2 minutes. Transfer the finished latkes to a paper towel–lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining latke batter, not letting the pan go dry (you’ll probably only need another 1 Tbs. oil).