I always tell my kids that looks, and names, can be decieving. Latkes fall into this category. Although they really are just hashbrowns with a history, they can look unappetizing to the uninitiated.
Ever a favorite Hanukkah food, latkes can be made of many different ingredients. Originally, they were actually made with cheese. Religious lore has it that Judith fed cheese to the leader of the Jewish enemies. The cheese made him thirsty, and to quench his thirst, he drank excessive amounts of wine. After he was drunk, Judith cut off his head … not very appetizing, but it apparently did the trick back in the day.
Today, latkes are often made with potatoes – usually golden or sweet – and are fried in oil to remind Hanukkah celebrants of the miracle of the single lamp of oil that should have lasted only one day, but instead lasted eight days. This festival of the miracle of oil — or light – is what we now know as Hanukkah, and celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple after the revolt against the Greeks.
Whether you serve latkes in celebration of Hannukah or just for a tasty treat, they are wonderful as a side or a main dish. Serve them with chunky applesauce, chutney or salsa, to accent other flavors in your meal. This recipe, as well as recipes for Curried Sweet Potato Latkes and delicious toppers like Charoset and Mango-Avocado Salsa (both of which pair nicely with latkes!) can be found in my newest cookbook, Free for All Cooking!
Traditional Potato Latkes
2 cups grated gold, white or sweet potatoes (approximately 1 ½ lbs.)
1 small onion, grated
3 eggs, beaten
3 Tbs. Jules Gluten Free™ All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. sea salt
pepper, to taste
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes or 1 ½ tsp. fresh parsley
1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional) or Nutritional Yeast (GF)
high heat oil for frying
Applesauce or sour cream as a condiment
Wash then grate the potatoes in a food processor, with the skins on. Grate the onion as well, then combine.
Stir the beaten eggs with a fork, then combine in a large bowl with the potatoes and onion.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, including the parsley, and slowly stir into the potato mixture until combined. If the mixture is too dry to hold together, slowly add in small amounts of milk. The final mixture should hold together in a pancake shape when scooped into the hot oil.
Pour about 1/8 inch of oil in an electric or deep skillet. Bring the oil to between 375 – 400 F. Drop the potato mixture into the hot oil by large tablespoons, flattening the pancakes with the back of a spoon when in the oil. Cook each side until golden brown, flipping with a slotted spatula after approximately 3-4 minutes per side.
Remove the cooked latkes to a plate lined with paper towels. Keep warm in a warming drawer or low temperature oven until ready to serve with applesauce or sour cream, if desired.
The latkes may be frozen once cooked, blotted and cooled. To reheat, cook on a baking sheet at 425 F convection or 450 F static for 15 minutes, turning repeatedly until crispy and hot.
Yield: approximately 15 latkes.