Continue the holiday feasting with Hanukkah’s potato latkes

In one weekend, you can go from turkey and cranberry sauce to potato pancakes. It's not hard to do!

Continue the holiday feasting with Hanukkah’s potato latkes

In one weekend, you can go from turkey and cranberry sauce to potato pancakes. It's not hard to do!

Hanukkah begins this year on Sunday, Nov. 28. Those who celebrate Hanukkah can jump right in while still considering Thanksgiving leftovers.

Latkes or potato pancakes are the Hanukkah food that is most commonly associated with Hanukkah. According to the legend, oil was scarce enough to light the temple menorah for just one night and one day after the Second Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by invaders over 2,000 years ago. The oil was able to burn for eight days and eight night, giving the holiday its name, "Festival of Lights".

This miracle of Hanukkah is symbolized by oil-fried food, such as latkes and doughnuts.

Many home chefs and chefs have experimented with latkes in recent years. They used vegetables such as butternut squash and zucchini and added fresh herbs and seasonings. You can also add toppings to latkes, such as sour cream or tzatziki.

Updates would be welcome in my family as an option but not as a replacement for the traditional, non-negotiable potato pancake with traditional toppings.

You don't need to be Jewish to enjoy latkes. These little crispy potato pancakes are a delicious appetizer or side dish, and can be enjoyed all year.

What cooking oil do you recommend?

My style is more indulgent than traditional and I prefer to make latkes using olive oil, with a small amount of butter for flavor. You need to watch the heat of the pan. It should be high enough to make crisp pancakes but not too high that it turns brown.

You don't need extra virgin olive oil. A cheaper bottle of pure olive oils, which is available at most grocery stores, will work just as well for frying. You can also use vegetable oil or canola oil.

Latkes can be served with applesauce or sour cream so that people have the option to choose how they want them to taste. These latkes can be served with caviar or smoked salmon, gravlax or creme fraiche if you want to go a bit fancy. If you're serving meat with the latkes, skip the butter and sourcream and keep the meal kosher.

Last but not least, leftover cranberry sauce makes a great addition to latkes. This idea will be tested the last week in November. Let me know if you try it!

You might also find traditional Hanukkah dishes like noodle kugel and beef brisket with wild mushroom, Jewish beef tender, chicken marbella, and chicken thighs with onions, green olives, among others.

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POTATO PACKETS

Serves 6-8

2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled

2 large eggs

1/2 cup minced onions

Optional: 1 tablespoon matzoh flour or meal (optional).

To taste, use freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt

Olive oil for cooking (approximately 1/2 cup).

3 tablespoons butter to use in cooking (optional but recommended).

Serve with sour cream or applesauce

Use the grating blade on a food processor, or a handheld grates to grate the potatoes using the large-holed side or blade. Let the potatoes cool in a bowl before transferring any liquid.

Mix the eggs and chopped onion in a large bowl. Grab a handful of grated potatoes and hold them in your hands. Then, squeeze as much liquid back into the bowl as you can. Place the squeezed potatoes in small batches into the bowl along with the eggs.

Place your finger in the liquid from the other bowl. The bottom will have a layer of potato starch. You will need to drain the liquid off the top. Next, scrape the starch from the bottom and combine it with the egg mixture. Hands work best. The natural starch helps to bind the potatoes together. You can also add the matzoh flour or meal if you have only a small amount of starch. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oils and a teaspoon of butter in a large skillet or two to speed up the process. Once the butter is melted, heat the fat. Toss the potato mixture in the pan. About 4 to 5 minutes per side, cook until crisp and golden brown. It is important to monitor the heat. Too low will cause them not to brown properly. Too high can cause oil to smoke.

Place the potato pancakes on a paper towel to drain and then transfer them to a platter. Continue to cook the potato pancakes until you are satisfied with the mixture. You can add more butter and oil as needed. To avoid any splattering, the potatoes will continue to release liquid even after they are cooled. Give the potato mixture a quick squeeze as it reaches the bottom of your bowl. The potatoes will start to brown but it won't matter if they are cooked.

Warm potato pancakes can be served with sour cream or applesauce.

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