“Latkes” is the Yiddish word for pancakes (usually potato pancakes). Jewish people eat latkes for Hanukkah because of the oil they’re fried in.
It symbolizes the miracle of the oil: A little over 2000 years ago, the Jewish people were besieged by a Greek army. Many were barricaded in the Temple of Jerusalem, trying desperately to protect it. They only had a small amount of oil, yet it lasted for eight days and nights. (Another Hanukkah tradition is that candles on the Menorah are lit for 8 days, one for each of the eight nights the oil lasted.)
I’ve made latkes using different recipes over the years, and they usually taste about the same. The main difference in how a latke tastes is in the frying and storing. It’s important to keep the temperature of the oil fairly high while cooking. This keeps the latkes from absorbing all the oil. They turn out crispier this way too.
Baking potatoes are best to use since they’re starchier. The starchiness holds the pancake together better while frying.
Recipe for Potato Latkes
2 to 2 ½ pounds Baking Potatoes
1 Yellow Onion (optional, but recommended)
2 Eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup Flour or Matzoh Meal
1 t. Salt (or more to taste)
Pepper to taste
Vegetable or Olive Oil for frying
Clean the potatoes, cutting out any imperfections. Grate potatoes and onions. (If your eyes can’t take grating the onions, you can finely chop them. Also, to save time you can grate it all in a food processor.) Put both in colander. Strain out all liquid, pressing down with a clean towel or squeeze it with your hands. Place mixture in bowl and combine with remaining ingredients.
Pour ¼ inch of oil into skillet and heat over medium-high heat. You’ll know the oil is hot enough if , when you put a very small amount of the mixture in, it sizzles.
Spoon potato mixture into the skillet and flatten with spatula, making about 3-4 inch pancakes. Fry latkes until golden brown to brown on bottom and flip. Turn down heat a little if needed to prevent burning, but not too much or the pancakes will turn out soggy.
Once pancakes are golden brown on each side, drain on a double paper towel and gently blot the top with paper towels too.
Do not stack the latkes. That will make them soggy too! You can put them on a cookie sheet in a single layer in a low oven to keep them warm.
Serve them with homemade applesauce for a real treat!
Many thanks to Diane Schindelheim for teaching me the art of cooking latkes!
UPDATE: Check out my instructions for Potato Nik which you make as one large potato pancake to save time.
This article was posted on Wednesday, December 28th, 2005 at 2:29 pm and is filed under Hanukkah, Hanukkah Recipes, Holiday Recipes, Holidays Around the World, Latkes, Main Course, Potato Latkes, Potato Pancakes, Recipes of the World, Side Dishes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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