Cary, NC — Like many families in Cary, we will celebrate the first night of Hanukkah (Tuesday, December 16, 2014) by lighting a menorah, spinning dreidels, and eating traditional foods like potato latkes.
Here’s my disclaimer: I wasn’t born a Jew–I married one. With that union, I became the honorary shiksa in the family. At the same time, I also became interested in all of my husband’s family traditions.
My favorite tradition? The latkes. Potato pancakes fried in oil to symbolize the oil in the temple that lasted not one night but eight. This allowed the lamps to remain lit while the eight day process to make more oil was completed.
We usually make our latkes on the first night of Hanukkah, and this is one of our favorite family holiday traditions. The recipe is deceptively simple but, as any good Jew knows, making good potato pancakes takes a knack. Years of making them have given us some “kitchen hints” that make the task easier.
- 4-5 medium potatoes, peeled
- 3 T flour (for gluten-free pancakes use gluten-free flour or almond meal)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 scallions, white and greens sliced thinly
- 2 tsp salt
- oil (1/4 cup total)
- Slice the potatoes into manageable chunks.
- In a food processor, shred the potatoes into a large bowl of cold ice water. This is important so that the potatoes do not discolor (which they do rapidly when exposed to the air).
- Drain the potatoes into a colander.
- Press down repeatedly with many paper towels or tea towels to squeeze out excess water. Potatoes should remain nice and white. Salt the potatoes and continue to press out the liquid.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the potatoes, and mix in the salt, flour, scallions and egg. Combine well.
- Heat a skillet on med-high heat. Add about 1-2 Tablespoons of the oil and heat.
- With a 1/4 measure scoop up some shredded potato mixture and drop onto skillet. It should start to sizzle immediately if skillet is hot enough. Press down on pancake mixture to flatten and aid in cooking thoroughly. Repeat.
- When outside edges begin to brown, flip to other side using a spatula. Occasionally check to see that underside is cooking.
- Remove cooked pancakes to prepared platter lined with paper towels and place in oven to keep warm.
- Continue until all of batter is used. Add oil as needed.
- Serve warm with either sour cream or applesauce on the side.
- Makes enough for 4-6 people, depending on how hungry.
This makes a delicious appetizer or side. We usually have a roast chicken and a green vegetable with this dish.
Story by Lindsey Chester. Photo by parkdale pigeon.