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Latkes Two Ways (Potato Pancakes)

December 12, 2012

Making potato latkes  on Chanukah is a tradition. The smell of the onions and oil,maybe some home made apple sauce on the stove too,the shadows of the  candles dancing on the walls..it really only makes me think of happy times. The deep frying in oil represents the miracle of light. If you are unaware of the history, here is a quick breakdown. Fried foods are  traditionally eaten on Chanukah in commemoration of the oil that miraculously burned for eight days when the Maccabees rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem.They came across a Menorah in a temple. The problem they had was they only had enough oil for one night. When the Menorah was lit, it stayed lit for eight straight days. A miracle sent from above many felt, and still do to this day. It is for this reason that when celebrating Chanukah,we fry many of the traditional foods in oil. Every family has “their” own way of making them, and of course we always love the way  our Mom’s made them best. I’ve made a few changes over the years for a more crisp, less oily version, and  mix the potatoes with  veggies sometimes (zucchini and potato are awesome).In this recipe,I am making  traditional potato and onion, and  a sassy version with shredded apple. Whichever you decide to make, or attempt two  on one  night, as I did..they are an indulgence everyone should try once, no matter what your  religion!

4 med.-lg potatoes,scrubbed well

1 1/2 sweet onions,pureed in blender or processor

3 T. fresh dill

3 t. dried dill

1 large granny smith apple

3 eggs

1/2 C. Peanut oil

1 C. sour cream

1 T maple syrup

3 t. cinnamon

1 T. kosher salt and 1 T. black pepper mixed together

applesauce,caviar (optional toppings)

large bowl of ice

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Finely puree onion. You can grate them if you like, but I find that the pancakes hold together better with almost a paste of onion. You will also need to remove one tablespoon of this for your sour cream topping.

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Make sour cream toppings now so the flavors can intensify. Add to 1/2 C. of sour cream: 1 T. pureed onion,1 T. fresh dill and 1 t. dried dill, and 1 t. s&p mixture.Stir well. To the other 1/2 C. of sour cream add: 1 T. maple syrup and 1 t. cinnamon. Stir well. Cover and put  in fridge while you make latkes.

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I leave some of the peel on the potatoes. Sometimes I don’t peel them at all.Just make sure  they are well scrubbed if you aren’t peeling.Once peeled immediately put in the ice bath to prevent oxidation and  the ominous browning. You can add a splash of lemon juice to the water to prevent further browning of the pancake batter.

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Start grating! I grate by hand.Most certainly you can use a food processor. I prefer the old fashioned way,just like my Mom did it.Once you get going it’s almost fun ( ok so it’s not really fun but if you switch hands you get a mini workout of the arms, and pre burn some of the calories you are about to consume) I grate the potatoes length wise to have more of  a hash brown texture. Finer grating will give you a more dense pancake. Put shreds into ice bath immediately. ( I really don’t like the browning!)

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Drain well in a  colander,squeezing as much water out as you can. Dump potatoes into a clean kitchen towel. Witha a twisting motion, wring as much water as possible out of the potatoes. When you think there is no more water, give it one  more twist. The more water you get out, the more crisp your latkes will be.

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Put potatoes in large mixing bowl.Combine your potaotes,onions,and eggs.If you are making two versions,split them now into two bowls.To one, add a peeled and grated granny smith apple, 2 t. cinnamon and 1 t. of the s&p mix.To the other  add 2 T. fresh dill and 1 t. dried dill.You may notice I add no flour as some recipes do.There is more than ample starch left after the ice bath to bind the potatoes.Flour makes them heavy, adds unnecessary gluten, and..calories!Heat  your large frying pan before adding oil.Always put oil into a hot pan. The pan is hot  enough when the oil shimmies when poured in.

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Time to fry!Add a few tablespoons of oil to the HOT pan. I prefer peanut oil for this,which can withstand high temperature and has no added taste. Olive oil is alright but make sure it is very light. I prefer to make these small,more on the appetizer size.Drop by large teaspoonfulls into very hot peanut oil.Spread out a bit and then let them brown! When frying, go for one  flip only! Allow to brown completely on one side, and then turn.This makes for a less oily latke. Please do….not… SMASH them with your spatula! This only causes oil absorption. Also, use a nice thin spatula to flip, as the pancakes are very delicate.Place a cooling rack over a paper towel line cookie sheet.Laying the fried latkes directly on  a paper towel allows then to sit in the oil that drains off.By placing them on a rack, excess (which won’t be much) drains but is not reabsorbed into the pancake.You can also keep them warn amd crisp in a 300 degree oven while you are frying the rest. This makes about 40 small to medium latkes.

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Serve with toppings,any which way you like. The onion dill sour cream goes well with the traditional latke,and the maple cinnamon sour cream takes the apple pancakes to a new level.

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Whichever you choose,enjoy this labor of love, and the holiday season. L’chaim!

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One comment

  1. They look great Rozzi. I tried mixing sweet potatoes with Russets for a batch last night and I didn’t like them. Couldn’t get them crispy.



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