Potato Latkes

by BiteSizedJessica on December 8, 2010

I am a spoiled child. My mom is Jewish and my father is Protestant, and so my family celebrates both holidays. My mom hosts Christmas dinner every year and it is one of my favorite times. A few years ago my mom threw a Chanukah party as well, which was initially supposed to be a low-key party with a few friends.

As the party approached, our guest list grew and we wound up with 25 people in my parents apartment expecting food. To keep things “easy” my mom made this incredible honey-soy roast chicken that I loved. She also spent half the night in the kitchen covered in oil, frying up latkes while the rest of us drank wine and messed around with the dreidles in the living room. Needless to say that was my mom’s last Chanukah party.

But since then I loved the tradition of having Chanukah separate from Christmas. Even though grating potatoes eventually exhausts your arm and frying them is hugely messy, the resulting latke is incredible. Hot out of the pan, crispy, salty and moist, a warm latke topped with applesauce and sour cream is the most warming, satisfying bite. A few years back, Gourmet ran a few recipes for latke toppings that I loved and over the years made into my own – they now include an apple chutney, egg salad and horseradish crème fraiche topped with smoked trout and chives.

This year Jon and I will be away for Christmas and New Years, and so I really wanted to make these latkes for Chanukah before we left. The various toppings make them festive and special, but are still easy enough to make and serve a large group. Happy Chanukah all!

INGREDIENTS
(Makes 40 bitesized latkes)

For the Latkes:
4 russet potatoes
4 whole eggs
1 cup flour
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 lemons, juiced
Freshly ground pepper
Oil for frying

Process:

    1. Grate potatoes on a cheese grater or in food processor. Grate onions similarly. Combine and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
    2. Place potato mixture into a clean dishtowel or several layers of paper towels. Bring the corners of the towel together and wring out all the water from the potatoes. This will help them stay together in the pan and get crispy when frying.
    3. Place dried potato mixture into a clean bowl and mix with eggs, Dijon and flour.
    4. Heat a large skillet with oil and fry latkes until golden brown, about 1 minute per side, (cooking time depends on thickness and size of latkes).
    5. Sprinkle latkes with salt and serve hot, topped with egg salad, smoked trout or apple chutney.

For the Egg Salad:

See previous post, Spring Garden Egg Salad.

For the Smoked Trout and Horseradish Crème Fraiche:

1 8 oz tub crème fraiche
1 package smoked trout
3 oz prepared white horseradish
Chives, finely chopped

Process:

    1. Mix crème fraiche and horseradish to taste. Add chopped chives and season with salt and pepper.
    2. Top latke with horse radish crème fraiche, smoked trout and a sprinkling of chopped chives.

For the Apple Chutney:

3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 medium onion, diced
4 apples, diced (I used a mix of Macoun, Winesap, Cameo and Gala)
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 cinnamon stick
1 clove star anise
2 bay leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp fresh thyme
½ tsp fresh oregano, chopped
½ tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 ½ c apple cider
Salt and pepper
Few tsps mascarpone cheese, for topping

Process:

    1. Make a gastrique – caramelize the honey and deglaze with the cider vinegar. Reduce to nearly a glaze.
    2. Add the diced onions, ginger, bay, cinnamon stick and star anise. Sweat the onions and ginger until lightly browned.
    3. When the mixture is browned and a bit caramelized, add the diced apples, lemon juice, fresh herbs and red pepper flakes. Cook all together for a minute, then add the cider. Cover and cook on very low heat, stirring vigilantly, until apples are soft and broken down, about 30-40 minutes.
    4. Serve warm on a latke with mascarpone cheese or sour cream.

© 2010 Jonathan Meter and Jessica Hertle

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle in NZ December 10, 2010 at 7:32 am

Loving the idea of Latkes – never come across them before – rosti yes, latkes not until now.

For a quick and easy way to remove the excess liquid from the grated potatoes and onions try popping the raw grated veg flesh into a potato ricer and squeeze! An incredible amount of liquid comes out for little effort.

This also works well in Summer with grated zucchini and other Summer squash, and with grated apple to add to any type of meatball recipe or whatever you like (cook’s treat – either drink the apple juice or use it in your recipe).

Then you just have to wash the ricer rather than wash heaps of cloths or needing to dispose of used paper towels. Green and easy!

Happy cooking,

Michelle in Wellington, NZ

Tom @ Tall Clover Farm December 17, 2010 at 12:18 pm

May I just say I had my latke recently, and I swooned and quickly regretted that I had not been eating these delicious disks for the last fifty years.

Once I regained composure, I begged my sweet hostess to let me help her so I could learn this necessary life skill.

Your recipe rocks, and I will eagerly make some this weekend and the apple chutney, well, it brought a tear to my eye. Here’s to great food and the kind folks (like yourselves) who share traditions to savor.

hungry dog December 29, 2010 at 9:09 pm

What a labor of love–these look divine! HOpe you had nice holidays. And happy new year to you both!

BiteSizedJessica January 24, 2011 at 11:47 am

Michelle,
I’m so glad to hear I helped introduce you to latkes. Thanks for the tip about the liquid removal and for the zucchini / squash suggestion. I will definitely try it this summer! Keep checking out BiteSized every Wednesday for more photos, stories and recipes.
Best, Jessica

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