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The Best Hanukkah Latkes

With the spectacle that is Christmas just a couple of weeks away, it can be hard to remember that a somewhat subtler holiday, Hanukkah, is right around the corner. The festival of lights begins this Saturday, in fact—an eight-day celebration that includes menorah lighting, dreidel spinning, present giving, and most importantly, lots and lots of fried food.

While jelly donuts make an occasional appearance, the star of any Hanukkah table is undoubtedly the latke, a crispy potato pancake cooked in plenty of hot oil.  And as befitting the spirited Jewish people, there are endless opinions when it comes to the preparation of this beloved holiday specialty.  You can shred the potatoes or mash them.  You can add onion, or not.  If you’re feeling particularly wild and crazy (and if your determinedly traditional family members don’t throw a fit) you can even experiment with a variety of different veggies or tubers.

Like all good Jewish girls, however, we’re firmly convinced that our own mother knows best.  So when the festival of lights rolls around this year, we’re turning to this fail-safe recipe for our own latke enjoyment, and think you should too.

Besides, if you’re going to be eating fried potato pancakes for eight nights in a row, they better be really, really good.

Hanukkah Latkes
Makes 16 

2 ½ lbs Idaho baking potatoes, unpeeled and cut into wedges
1 large onion, cut into quarters
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying

Place the onion in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, and pulse until it is finely diced. Transfer the onion to a small bowl.

Remove the blade from your food processor, and replace with the shredder attachment (use the medium-sized shredding holes).  Feed the potatoes through a few at a time.

Transfer all of the shredded potato into a large colander set over a large bowl.  Add the onions, and begin to combine well with your hands, squeezing out all the excess moisture from the mixture as you go.

Once the mixture is sufficiently dry (it should have turned a pink/red color), dump out the liquid that drained into the bottom of the bowl.  Transfer the potato/onion mixture into the bowl, and add in the eggs, flour, salt and pepper, stirring well to combine.  Let sit for about 10 minutes.

Pour approximately ¼ inch of oil into a large, cast iron skillet, and set over a high flame until hot, but not smoking.  Using a large spoon or ¼ cup measure, begin ladling the mixture into the pan, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.  Use a metal spatula to flatten each pancake.  Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side.  Set pancakes to drain over paper towels and sprinkle with a little extra salt.  Repeat until you’ve used all of the potato mixture, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

Serve immediately with applesauce and sour cream.




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