For many, the holiday season is all about family and food. Having grown up celebrating Chanukah, this holiday food will include my favorite, potato latkes. More specifically, my mother’s latkes.
While there is still some debate in our family over applesauce vs. sour cream as the garnish (I’m on Team Applesauce, myself), there is no denying that latkes are an essential part of our Chanukah tradition.
I asked my mother to briefly explain (for those who don’t know) why we make latkes and then to share her recipe for these delicious treats:
Latkes (potato pancakes) are part of the Chanukah tradition. The Jewish holiday commemorates a military victory over the Greeks, celebrating their right to practice Judaism. When the Jews entered their desecrated temple in order to rededicate it, they found they only had enough oil to keep the Eternal Light lit for one day. The story goes that the oil miraculously lasted 8 days until they were able to press more oil. Therefore, the holiday is 8 days long and we eat foods that are fried in oil, like latkes and doughnuts.
3 medium Russet potatoes (1 lb.)—best choice of potato for latkes!
3 beaten eggs
1/4 cup matzo meal
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Applesauce and/or sour cream as garnish
Peel and coarsely shred potatoes (should have 3 cups). As you work, put shredded potatoes in a bowl of cold water to prevent darkening and to ensure a crispy latke. Drain. Rinse and drain again thoroughly.
In a mixing bowl, stir together eggs, potatoes, matzo meal, onion, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. In a 12″ skillet heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat.
Work in batches: For each latke, drop 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture into hot oil. Press to flatten slightly. Fry 2 – 3 minutes or till edges are crisp; turn. Fry 2 – 3 minutes more. Drain on paper towels. Cover; keep warm. Repeat with remaining mixture, adding oil to skillet as needed. Serve warm with applesauce and/or sour cream. Makes 24 latkes.
So how do you like your latkes — sour cream, applesauce (or another topping)? Tell us in the comments below!