The festival of Hanukkah takes place on the 25th day of the ninth month according to the Jewish calendar. This can fall from late November to late December on the Gregorian calendar. Hanukkah is “early” on most calendars around the world this year. Hanukkah is a smaller festival, but it has grown in popularity around the world, perhaps due to its fun traditions and delicious food. To commemorate the importance of oil during the festivities, many people enjoy fried foods such as falafel, jelly donuts (sufganiyot), and potato fries. I haven’t perfected any donut recipes yet so head over to Ruby Donuts in Ayer in honor of the festival sometime between November 28th and December 6th. What I can offer is a potato pancake or latke recipe that everyone can enjoy.
- 2½ pounds of rust-red potatoes, peeled
- 1 large yellow onion
- ¼ cup of potato starch
- 2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
- ½ teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus extra for sprinkling
- ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups of matzoh meal or 2 cups of Ian’s gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
- Lots of rapeseed oil for frying
Makes about 18.
If you’re using a food processor, use the grater to chop up the potatoes and onion, then place them in a large mixing bowl. This can be done in batches, depending on the size of your machine. If you’re chopping by hand, use a box grater to chop the potatoes. Finely dice the onion.
Put the mixture in a colander or colander over the sink and squeeze out the water. Squeeze and drain twice more, wait a few minutes and stir the mixture between each drain.
Pour the potato and onion mixture into a large mixing bowl. Mix the potatoes and onions with your hands with the potato starch, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest and baking powder until the potatoes have released a little more moisture and the starch has dissolved, about 2 minutes.
Add the matzo or gluten-free breadcrumbs and mix well. Set aside for about 10 minutes. The mixture should be a little loose, but hold together when pressed. If it seems too wet, add a little extra matzo flour or gluten-free breadcrumbs.
In the meantime, preheat a large cast iron pan over medium heat. Prepare a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain the oil from the latkes. Placing cooked latkes on a cooling shelf also works well for draining the oil. Put at least half an inch of oil in the pan. Don’t go lightly on the oil. If it fits securely in the pan, then it’s not too much oil. While the oil is heating, shape some latkes.
With wet hands (so that the mixture does not stick) roll the mixture into golf balls and then press flat into thin cakes. Prepare about six before you start roasting.
The oil will be hot enough if you add a pinch of batter and bubbles will form quickly. If it smokes right away, then the heat is too high and you should turn it down a little. If the bubbles are really lazy, just give it a few more minutes or turn up the heat a little.
Fry the latkes in batches for about four minutes until golden brown. Turn over and cook for another three minutes. Place the latkes in the lined pan or on the cooling shelf to drain and sprinkle with a little salt. Serve warm.
Note: I highly recommend doubling the batch to accommodate the chef’s tasting privileges or if you are serving more than three people. If you’re making a larger batch, you may want to run the oven at 200 ° F to keep the latkes warm until they’re ready to serve. Leftovers can be frozen and reheated in the oven or toaster. Since we’re at Harvard, I recommend the applesauce topping. Some people may prefer sour cream and chives. This recipe is based on the classic latke recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I’ve adapted it over the years and fused it with other recipes and techniques.