So as many of you know, the holiday of Chanukah is super early this year. It started on Wednesday, which overlaps with Thanksgiving for like the first time in 100+ years (and apparently it won’t happen again for another 70,000 years). That is because the Jewish holidays work on an ancient lunar calendar (which is made even more wonky by the fact that this year there are two months of Adar on the hebrew calendar). Combine that with the fact that Thanksgiving is on a different date each year and we won the Thanksgivikkuah lottery this year!
One of the traditional foods for Chanukah are potato latkes. These are basically potato pancakes fried in oil. Oil is big during Chanukah, as part of the Chanukah story is how the oil for the lamps in the temple miraculously lasted 8 days instead of only one (thus why we celebrate for 8 days). So the miracle of Chanukah in ancient times means that we all get to eat fried fattening foods in present day without guilt. Hurray!
A couple of days ago I tweeted about my latke making and got some requests to share the recipe. So I thought I would post it here for you all. Although these are a Chanukah food, they work with any meal where potatoes are a good side dish. They would be delicious with a good roast or any kind of warm comfort food. So here goes…
Jay’s Potato Latkes
- 6 medium potatoes (or 3-4 of the biggies)
- 1 small onion
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1. Peel and grate the potatoes and onions.
Ok, you really want to have a food processor for this. If you do, this is a snap. Just toss them in and they are done in seconds. If you have to do this by hand, well, that works too, but just know it is going to take a while. My poor grandmother used to hand grate her potatoes and onions for a huge family, so it can be done. Just watch your knuckles.
If you put them in the food processor, there are two ways this can be done. My way (right) and my mom’s way (wrong). Can you tell this is an eternal family debate?
First step regardless is to use the grating blade and run the potatoes and onions through the food processor until they are shredded. This is where I stop (and where you will stop if you are hand grating). This makes really stringy, hashbrown-like latkes that are crispy and brown on the edges and a little soft and creamy on the inside.
The other option is to then put the chopping blade in the bowl and run the shredded potato/onion through again until you have a pulp. Again, this is how my mother makes hers and it makes latkes with more of a pancake texture, almost like potato batter. I don’t think the potato flavor is as strong this way, and you don’t get those really crispy hashbrown-like edges. But it is just a matter of personal taste. Note: If you do go for the double grated method, let the potato puree sit for about 10 minutes at this point until the liquid rises to the top and then skim it off before going further.
2. Stir in eggs and remaining ingredients.
3. Fry those suckers in oil.
Yes, it goes against everything we have been taught, but you need a lot of oil here and it should get hot before you add the potato mixture. The only way these will brown and cook through is if they are sitting in oil to fry, not just a light spray on the bottom. Remember, this is a holiday where we celebrate oil! Plus, most of it drains off if your oil is hot enough.
Cook them until you start to see the edges get brown. At that point you can peek at the bottom and if the center is brown, flip them over. When they are browned on both sides, drain on a paper towel. Yes, the cooking takes a while. To do that big batch was probably a half an hour with two frying pans going.
This recipe makes a ton. I think there are about 50 at least. This plate is a full recipe (minus the handful that got eaten as we were cooking).
Toppings for latkes vary based on preference. I personally love the (non traditional) sour cream because I think it highlights that crispy potato flavor. Apple sauce is more traditional. And in some parts of the world (including with my mother and daughter), sugar sprinkled on top is the preference. So it is really up to you. These are delicious on their own too.
Hope you all enjoy! And happy holidays!