Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Laura's Latkes

This year marks my fifth Hanukkah celebration with my fiancé’s family. In anticipation, I’m sharing his mother’s latke recipe which is the culinary highlight of the holiday. Latkes are potato pancakes common to the cuisines of Eastern, Central and Northern Europe. Similar creations can be found in Persian, Indian and Korean cuisine. Latkes are traditionally eaten by Ashkenazi Jews during Hanukkah.

Many dishes associated with Hanukkah are fried in oil since the miracle of the holiday involved oil. According to tradition, the Maccabean rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem was celebrated with an eight day ceremony. The observance required that a menorah be continuously lit, but there was only enough oil for one night because the Temple had been desecrated. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days.

Other traditional dishes are doughnuts (especially sufganiyot), fritters, and cheese. For another Hanukkah recipe, check out my shortbread cookies.

3 Yukon Gold potatoes, shredded or grated (not mashed)
3 red potatoes, shredded or grated (not mashed)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 eggs
1/2 cup matzo meal
1 teaspoon salt
peanut oil, for frying

1. Take 1 cup of the shredded Yukon potatoes and further shred in a food processor. This will aid in binding the latkes. Add it back to the potato mixture.
2. In a big bowl, mix all the ingredients (except oil) with your hands. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
3. Heat a skillet with oil 1/2-inch deep over medium high. The oil should not be smoking. Hot oil sears the latke and prevents it from absorbing too much additional oil.
4. Drop two tablespoons of potato mixture into the hot oil. Release the mixture so that it forms a latke about 3 inches in diameter. Latkes should be fried for 3-5 minutes on each side until dark golden brown. Flip over and fry the other side as well. Fry 3-5 latkes at a time depending on the size of your skillet.
5. Drain on paper towels to remove some of the oil.
6. Repeat with remaining mixture. Replenish oil as needed.
7. Serve warm with apple sauce and sour cream.