It's almost time for Hanukkah cooking! Today we are serving up a Trash Panda Approved Latke recipe.
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Latkes, often referred to as 'potato pancakes,' extend beyond their tastiness. They carry profound symbolism, representing the challenges and resilience of the Jewish people during tumultuous times. The historical context traces back to the Second Temple of Jerusalem, where the menorah's oil miraculously burned for eight days despite having only enough for one.
This event is mirrored in the preparation of latkes, fried in oil, signifying the miracle of Hanukkah Today, the celebration of Hanukkah is intertwined with the tradition of making latkes, a heartfelt homage to a miracle that continues to resonate with Jewish communities worldwide for over a millennium.
Whether you celebrate Hanukkah or not, they are a delicious snack or meal to try. Although sometimes fried in vegetable oil or canola oil, we recommend frying them in avocado oil or chicken schmaltz as a healthier alternative.
Makes 12 (4 inch) Latkes
1 1/2 pounds organic baking potatoes (3 to 4 potatoes)
1/2 medium organic yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 large pastured egg
2 tablespoons organic matzo meal or unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup avocado oil or chicken schmaltz, or a combination of both
Applesauce and sour cream, for serving
Prepare your setup. Heat the oven and prep a baking sheet with a wire cooling rack, so latkes can stay warm and crisp. Prepare a paper towel-lined baking pan ready to receive piping-hot latkes for draining.
Grate the potatoes and onions. Use the large shredding blade on your food processor to grate the potatoes and onions in seconds. A box grater works well too (it just requires some extra elbow grease).
Squeeze the potatoes and onion. To get crispy latkes, the potato and onion mixture needs to be dry. A tea towel absorbs the liquid and starch, while cheesecloth lets it pass right through. Tie the cheesecloth around the handle of a wooden spoon for extra leverage in squeezing.
Mix the potato starch, egg, matzo, salt, and pepper with the potatoes and onion. Use your fingers to evenly distribute all of the ingredients. The potato starch is slippery and wants to cling to itself. Be sure to work it into the potato mixture.
Form latkes. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup, a fish spatula, your fingers, and a fork to form a flat, four-inch patty.
Fry the latkes. Heat the oil (and schmaltz, if using) until latkes sizzle immediately upon entering the oil. Fry until each side is dark golden-brown.
Drain and serve. Remove hot, crisp latkes from the oil and drain on paper towels. Keep warm in the oven or serve with applesauce or sour cream and enjoy!
Matzo meal is made by grinding matzo, a traditional Jewish unleavened bread that's also known as matzah or matzoh. Matzo bread is made by mixing flour and water, rolling it out thin, then baking it in an extremely hot oven. It can be soft and pliable, or cracker crisp. It is also made with simple ingredients like flour and water!
Latkes are best when fried in a generous amount of oil. Avocado oil can be used for frying because it has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point. Some recipes call for canola oil but canola oil is highly processed making it less nutrient dense. Avocado oil is not chemically processed and offers higher amounts of healthy fats compared to canola oil. If you happen to have some chicken schmaltz lying around, you can add some of that to the oil for more flavor.
What To Eat Latkes With
There’s a great debate between latke toppings. Some prefer sour cream, while others prefer apple sauce. And while there is no correct answer to which topping is best, it is up to you to decide what you prefer!
In Jewish culture, some have the custom of eating dairy in memory of the wine and cheese “party” that Yehudit served for Holofernes as well as adding taste to the dish. This is why sour cream is sometimes topped on top of latkes before serving.
Unsweetened applesauce is recommended. The tart and fruity taste of the applesauce cuts through the grease and lightens them up. Be sure to read the label, since some applesauce has high fructose corn syrup.
On the surface, latkes look like everyday potato pancakes, but these traditional holiday treats are so much more than a starchy comfort food. Latkes have been a Hanukkah staple for millennia, and have roots dating back to the 14th century, perhaps earlier. And while they may be a Hanukkah tradition, latkes taste great any day of the year!