Adapted from THE JEWISH COOKBOOK
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Potatoes, which are a New World ingredient, did not enjoy widespread use in Eastern Europe until the nineteenth century. once the starchy tubers caught on, they were embraced with gusto, and today these potato fritters, with tender, savory insides and crackly crusts, are the undisputed king of Ashkenazi Hanukkah celebrations.
• 4 lb (1.8 kg) russet (baking) potatoes, unpeeled,
scrubbed, and patted dry
• 1 medium onion, peeled
• 2/3 cup (95 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
• 4 – 5 eggs, lightly beaten
• ½ cup (25 g) finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• Vegetable oil, for frying
• Sour cream or Applesauce (page 394), for serving
Line 2 large baking sheets with several layers of paper towels.
Grate the potatoes and onion on the large holes of a box grater. (Alternatively, cut them into quarters and shred on the shredding disc of a food processor.) Working in batches, wrap the shredded potato and onion in a tea towel or several layers of paper towel and squeeze out as much water as possible.
Add the shredded, squeezed potatoes and onion to a large bowl along with the flour, 4 eggs, parsley (if using), salt, and pepper. Mix until the ingredients are fully incorporated. If the mixture looks dry, mix in the remaining egg.
In a large frying pan, heat ¼ inch (6 mm) oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Working in batches of 4 – 5, drop the batter by the ¼ cup (55 g) into the pan and press gently with a spatula to flatten. Cook, flipping once, until browned on both sides and cooked through, 6 – 8 minutes. Continue until all of the potato mixture is used up, adding additional oil to the pan if necessary and adjusting the heat if the latkes are browning too quickly or not quickly enough.
Transfer latkes to the paper towels to drain. Serve immediately topped with sour cream, applesauce, or both. Or, let latkes cool and store, tightly wrapped in plastic, in the fridge or freezer. To reheat, arrange the latkes in a single layer on a baking sheet and warm in a 400°F (200°C/Gas Mark 6) oven until crisp and warmed through, about 10 minutes.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Fried Potato Latkes (page 184) topped with applesauce is a classic Hanukkah pairing in Ashkenazi households. The sweet-tart flavor of the sauce brightens the oil crisped pancakes. It is no accident that potatoes and apples became central to the winter holiday in Eastern Europe. Both ingredients store well in cold weather, when little other fresh produce was available. This simple version of the Hanukkah condiment is made from unpeeled red baking apples, imparting a rosy blush and velvety texture to the sauce.
• 3 lb (1.35 kg) red baking apples, unpeeled, cored,
and cut into eighths
• ½ – ¾ cup (100 – 150 g) sugar
• 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
In a large pot or saucepan, combine the apples and ⅓ cup (75 ml/2½ fl oz) water. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very soft, 15 – 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool about 5 minutes. If there is excess liquid in the pot, pour off all but a tablespoon or two.
Transfer the cooked apples to a food processor and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until smooth. Transfer the applesauce to a large bowl and stir in ½ cup (100 g) sugar and the cinnamon while it is still warm. Taste and, if desired, stir in up to an additional ¼ cup (50 g) sugar. Serve immediately or store, covered, in the fridge for up to to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Leah Koenig is the author of six cookbooks, including The Jewish Cookbook and Modern Jewish Cooking. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Food & Wine, Epicurious, Food52, and more. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.