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The miracle of Latkes


Hanukkah is my favorite holiday! Not because of the gifts, because let's face it, I don't really get anything these days. My husband and I get a couple of things for ourselves, wrap them, and have the other one give it to us. Surprise!

Hanukkah is my favorite because it is the time of year where we are reminded to celebrate family, friends, and be grateful for all we have. And even in this crazy world we live in, we can all look around and find things we are grateful for, and for that, I am thankful.

Just like most other Jewish holidays, it all comes back to food. We gather with family and friends around a table, light the chanukiah, and devour latkes and sufganiyot (jelly donuts). Not the healthiest of holidays, I know, but someone's got to do it. What can I say, your 3-day cleanse can wait until tomorrow.

I've been eating Latkes for more years than I'd like to admit and making them for almost as many, so I've gathered for you the best recipes for traditional latkes and a couple not-so-traditional ones.

A few tricks I've gathered along the way for those intimidated by the thought of making them yourself:

-Use plain old russet potatoes for making latkes.  They have a high starch content, which means your latkes won't need to flour to bind them and they'll be less likely to fall apart.

-Some swear by hand grating potatoes. Don't listen to them...I've tried both hand grating and using a food processor, and while the hand grating is (maybe?) marginally better, it's not enough for me to torture myself in that way. I pull out the food processor once or twice a year, this being one of those times! 

-Squeezing the potatoes is essential: otherwise they will be too watery and fall apart. Do not skip this step. Wrap the grated potatoes in a kitchen towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 

-Now I hope you're still paying attention because this is the best tip: you know that bowl where you've been squeezing out the potatoes? at the bottom of that bowl is the potato starch you need for your crispy latkes! After squeezing the potatoes dry in a clean kitchen towel, let the liquid in the bowl settle. Pour off the liquid on top and then collect the potato starch from the bottom of the bowl and put it back into your shredded potatoes. TRUST ME.

-You can pre-make these, and freeze them.  When the guests come over, instead of sweating over the frying pan, pop them into an oven, they'll come out crispy and delicious, and you'll look like a hero.


-And lastly, don't beat yourself up if you can't (or don't want to) make them: Trader Joe's has pretty good ones in their freezer section that could almost pass for homemade.

Here is the go-to Latke recipe I've been making for years, which was inspired by an old Gourmet Magazine recipe:

INGREDIENTS
  1. 1 lb potatoes (Russets, Yukon), peeled and coarsely grated (see note above about squeezing the potatoes and adding back in the potato starch, do not skip these steps)
  2. 2 scallions, finely chopped
  3. 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  4. 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  7. 3/4 cup safflower, peanut, or canola oil

PREPARATION
  1. Stir together potatoes, scallions, flour, eggs, salt, and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a deep 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 3-4 (don't overcrowd the pan), spoon 1/8-1/4 cup potato mixture per latke into oil and flatten with a slotted spatula. Reduce heat to medium and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer latkes with spatula to a drying rack set over over a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain.

Serve latkes with applesauce, sour cream, or both. 

Hop on over to our pinterest to find some more of our favorite Latke (and a couple Sufganiyot) recipes.

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