Posted by: thedirtybaker | November 29, 2013

Lazy-ish Latkes

Latkes, or potato pancakes, are a traditional Hanukkah food for Ashkenazi Jews.  The Maccabees ate them when they re-dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem, and the miracle of Hanukkah was that they had potatoes more than 1600 years before Columbus first crossed the Atlantic. Okay, maybe not.  Traditional Hanukkah foods are fried (for the miracle of the oil lasting 8 days instead of one day*), and potatoes, eggs, and onions were available in eastern and central Europe in December – after the conquistadors brought potatoes to Europe from South America.

One of the great debates in the Jewish community is whether latkes should be eaten with sour cream or with applesauce.  The LeeVees even have a song about it:  Both options are delicious, especially if you have a good, cinnamon-y applesauce.  They’re not hash browns – don’t eat them with ketchup**.  Now that I think about it, they would probably be good with guacamole, chimichurri, or a chunky salsa***. Latkes can be made with a wide range of other vegetables, especially root vegetables, but these are the most traditional.

I make these once a year with first graders (this year: 1st, 2nd, and 7th graders), who love working in the kitchen and especially love that they get to use the food processor.  1st graders can use it because it won’t turn on unless the top is on and closed.  7th graders and adults do the frying.  Everyone eats.

True laziness would be buying frozen latkes, but they’re never good.  NEVER.   Traditionally, people hand-grated the ingredients; some people swear by that, but food processors were invented for good reasons****.  This recipe is based on my mother’s standby, though she uses the blender for the full recipe (also tasty).  If you like fully pulverized ingredients, go with that.  I changed the directions to have a more traditional shredded texture.

Given the variation in potato and onion size and in  onion flavor, they won’t turn out the same every time, but they’ll still be good!

Lazy-ish Latkes
3 eggs, beaten
5-6 medium potatoes
3 slices onion (I’d go with ¾-1 inch slices)
2 lg. sprigs parsley (optional – this makes pretty green flecks)
½ c. sifted flour (gluten free works fine if you are cooking for glutards)
¼ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp. salt

Cut potatoes into large chunks or slices and shred with onion slices and parsley (if using) in food processor on pulse.  Remove or re-process any remaining large chunks.  Mix with beaten eggs, flour, baking powder, and salt. Heat up oil (a few mm deep) and fry, using about ¼ c. batter for each latke. Don’t try to be healthy and skip using oil – latkes should be crisp (but not burnt).  Place on paper towel and blot top before serving.  If you have leftovers, wrap them in paper towels inside plastic bags and toast to reheat.

*ask me in person and I might give you historically better information, but let’s not allow historicity to ruin a perfectly delicious excuse for fried food.

**Eat them however you like.

***Somewhere, a Jewish grandmother just felt a pang in her heart.  (It’s a shanda!) Sorry, ladies, globalization is delicious!

**** I’ve been told that scraped, bloody fingers from the grater are a standard part of this process.  Open wounds are a bad combination with cooking…. and with onion juice.


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