I feel compelled to start with the disclaimer that I am not Jewish, nor have I been tutored in the ways of classic dishes by a wise Jewish grandmother. This latke-maker is entirely Gentile — although the recipe I’ve borrowed is from Deb Perelman, who is a actual Jewish woman living in New York (her blog Smitten Kitchen is one of my absolute favorites, and she has a cookbook!).
I will also tell you up front what you probably already know: these are not diet food. They are potato pancakes. Fried potato pancakes. This is probably why they only really come around during Hanukkah – or, you know, a month or so prior to that if you’re a non-Jewish food blogger and testing a recipe several weeks ahead of the appropriate holiday. They’re also really easy, which is sort of a theme around here.
It’s a nice basic idea: Potatoes, seasoned with onions, salt and pepper, are held together with egg and just a touch of flour and fried. (I used all-purpose flour, but you could easily use another sort to make these gluten-free.) To get the lovely texture, the potatoes and onions are shredded. I had to do this on a box grater, but you could do it even faster in a food processor.
I like my latkes to hold together, but I also want them flat for maximum crispy. To do this, I lightly packed the mix into a quarter cup measure and dropped those into the pan, then flattened them with the back of a spoon. (The recipe I got this from said to use a spoon: I tried this with a spatula and I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, but the spoon worked better.) They cook fast, and they keep warm nicely in the oven. You can even make a whole batch and reheat in the oven later.
I went a bit off-book here and grated a clove of garlic into my latkes, and topped them with sour cream and green onions (chives are also great!). They were AMAZING. If you like them with applesauce or jam or something sweet, skip the garlic.
What are your favorite holiday foods? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. My Chocolate Crinkles recipe from last week is my most popular one to date! I’m excited in general, but also really thrilled that it’s one of my favorite family recipes that is getting so much attention. If you make them, send a picture or comment on the Bear & Bug Facebook page!
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen.
1 pound Russet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 small onion, peeled and shredded
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Peanut or other oil for frying
Drain excess liquid out of potatoes and onions by wrapping in a cheesecloth and squeezing. Let sit for 2 minutes, then squeeze again.
Combine in a bowl with other ingredients and mix until potatoes are evenly coated.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil over medium high heat until shimmering.
Drop of the mix by 1/4 cupfuls into the pan and flatten gently. Cook until golden on the bottom (about 2 minutes) and flip, cooking until that side is also golden (about 1 minute).
Remove to drain on paper towels. Keep warm in oven as needed.
Serve savory with sour cream and chives, or sweet with applesauce!
To reheat to crisp, preheat oven to 400. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet reheat to desired crispiness.