Hanukkah is the Jewish winter holiday, the Festival of Lights. It’s a relatively minor holiday, but due to the time of year it occurs (right near Christmas) it has gained importance in many Jewish households.
As with many holidays, one of the shining stars is the food served. Because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil, many of the traditional dishes are deep fried. Can we say yum (and bad for your arteries)? Sephardic Jews (those from Spain, the Middle East and North Africa) tend to eat lots of donuts, but Ashkenazi Jews (whose families come from Europe) eat latkes: fried potato pancakes.
It’s hard to measure quantities for this recipe; you need lots of potatoes, one or two eggs, salt, onion, some matzoh meal or flour and gallons of oil. I’m not kidding about the oil. The trick is to make sure that the potatoes are as dry as possible, then you won’t have to add much matzoh meal or flour. The more matzoh meal or flour you add, the gummier the finished product will be, and that’s bad. The joy of latkes is in the crispy, fried potato goodness.
Grate your potatoes, and some onions as well. If you’re really adventurous, you could toss in a zucchini or two, or maybe a carrot, but I prefer the classic potato and onion version. Dry the grated veggies well by squeezing them in paper towels or cheesecloth, or letting them sit in a colander (not the best option, but it will do in a pinch). Mix with the egg(s) and a little bit of binder (one or tablespoons at a time). Heat the oil in a large pan (or two) and drop the potatoes by large spoonfuls into the hot oil. Fry until crispy brown and let cool (a little) before eating. I like to test the first two or three to make sure they’re edible before feeding them to my family.
Serve with sour cream and applesauce. If you’re a purist you won’t serve meat with this dish, but some honey roasted carrots and baked salmon would go down wonders. Enjoy!