December is here and its almost time for the festival of lights and grease: Channukah begins on Thursday Night, the time when we celebrate the miracle of fried food.
It’s also the time of year that we decimate our kitchens making latkes. I don’t care how many splatter screens you put over your skillet- you still must scrub the kitchen after for hours. Hence- we only do this once a year. More than that and our health and homes’ can’t handle it.
I make the latkes from a The New York Cookbook, compiled by Molly O’Neill published in 1992. David the Latke King’s recipe is unmatched. You don’t actually need a recipe. The magic is in the method. Some of us use your grandmothers recipe. The rest of us use David’s. Google it and you’ll find dozens of hits.
I know, I know, I know. Why am I sharing a recipe so unhealthy? Because the world is stressful. Traditions and Rituals anchor us and connect us to our loved ones. Latkes today. Broccoli and Quinoa next week!
Some key tips:
Make sure to salt drain the potatoes really well. In fact, put them in a tea towel and squeeze the living daylight out of them. Dry is better.
My kids swear I make the world’s best latkes because I leave all the little potato edges to get lacy and crispy on the edges. Your kids likely feel this way about your latkes. And be patient! Don’t flip them too much.
When they were younger, I’d make homemade applesauce with the apples we picked (from Mr. Apples) in High Falls NY. I don’t know about you, but I am strictly in the applesauce camp. My daughter likes sour cream and I have no idea where this sour cream gene came from. I’m sure her father, who on an early date make me latkes and then served them with ketchup! Oy Vey.
If you want them fancy, you can serve them with caviar, smoked salmon, add carrots, leeks, chives, dill. I say- save that for a dinner party! Chanukkah is a time for tradition!
And make sure to call us for herbs when your indigestion acts up.
David’s Recipe for Latkes (In His Own Words)
Makes about 16 latkes, which is all you should eat the first night. By the end of Chanukah, you should be able to eat twice that many.
- 2 1/2 pounds Idaho baking potatoes, unpeeled
- 1 large yellow onion, quartered
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup matzoh meal
- 4 to 5 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 to 3 cups olive oil
- 1 large jar (16 ounces) unsweetened applesauce
- Pick up the potatoes and admire their heft, their pure starchiness. Then scrub them with a brush.
2. Place the onion in a food processor. Pulse the blade a few times until the onion is diced into crunchy bits. Remove the blade and scrape the onion bits into a small bowl. Return the food processor bowl to the machine. No need to wash it yet.
3. Cut the potatoes lengthwise to fit in the food processor feed tube. Find the medium-coarse food processor shredding disk, which you’ve never used. Put it into the machine and turn it on. Begin feeding the potato slices into the machine.
4. When the potatoes are shredded put them in a colander over a large bowl. Dump in the onion bits and mix everything around with your hands, squeezing the potato moisture out as you work. Let the mixture drip for a few minutes while you put on a recording of Kitty Carlisle singing “Beat Out That Rhythm on A Drum.”
5. Pour out the potato liquid from the bowl but leave the starch that clings to the bowl. This is good for you. Dump in the shredded potato and onion mix. Add the eggs, the matzoh meal, the parsley, the salt, and the pepper. Stir the mixture eagerly. Then let it sit for about 10 minutes.
6. In a large cast-iron skillet, pour in 1/4 inch of the oil. Over high heat, get the oil very hot, but don’t set off the smoke detector. Using the 1/4 cup measure or a long-handled serving spoon, start spooning the batter into the skillet. Flatten each with a metal spatula to a diameter of 4 to 5 inches. Do not try to make the latkes uniformly round. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the latkes until golden brown on one side. Then turn over and fry them some more. When crispy on the outside and most inside, about 5 minutes per side, remove and place on several thicknesses of paper towels. Keep doing this until you run out of batter.
7. Remove from the room anyone who prefers latkes with sour cream. Serve the latkes immediately. With applesauce.