How To Make Latkes

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Hanukkah may be over today, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to make latkes. If you’ve never made latkes before, may I suggest you do so tonight?

It’s pretty easy and pretty rewarding. Granted, it’s not guiltless food: eating a bunch of latkes is basically equivalent to eating a bunch of french fries, so you may want to serve them on a treadmill with a side of personal trainer. But holiday time is about treating yourself, isn’t it, and when was the last time you tre

[THIS POST HAS BEEN INTERRUPTED BY A FAN WHO JUST APPROACHED ME AT THE COFFEE SHOP WHERE I AM WRITING THIS. SHE SAYS SHE’S BEEN READING ME FOR A LONG TIME, THAT SHE’S A GEOGRAPHY TEACHER AND THAT SHE LIVES IN BUFFALO. I TOLD HER THAT I AM TERRIBLE AT GEOGRAPHY, THAT I REALLY DIDN’T KNOW WHETHER PHILADELPHIA WAS NORTH OR SOUTH OF NEW YORK, AND SHE GAVE ME A PITYING LOOK.]

Where was I? Oh yes, latkes. Let’s continue below, shall we?

I got the recipe from this month’s Saveur and the technique (for the recipe is more of a technique than an actual recipe) comes from Joan Nathan, the Jewish cooking guru.

Essentially you peel a bunch of potatoes (Yukon gold), put them through the shredder of your food processor (that’s how I did it, anyway), intermingling it with a raw onion which you shred too, and then you put the shredded potato and onion in a colander over a bowl and squeeze out all the liquid. Once the liquid is squeezed out you transfer the dried out potatoes and onion to a bowl:

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Here’s where you need the recipe: you add a certain amount of matzoh meal (3 Tbs?), an egg or two (I don’t remember), salt and pepper and then–rather amazingly–the starch from the potato liquid which remains at the bottom of the liquid bowl once you pour out all the liquid. [I’d be more exact in this recipe, but the magazine is at my apt. and I’m at a coffee shop where fans are stalking me. They’re all staring at me while I write this.]

Ok, so let’s say you just mix all that together–don’t be so exact, it isn’t science, it’s Judaism–and then you add a bunch of oil to a pan and heat it. You take walnut size balls of latke mix and flatten them in the hot oil:

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Oil is what we’re celebrating on Hanukkah, in case you didn’t know: the fact that oil burned for 8 nights and kept those Maccabees well-lit (there’s nothing less attractive than a shadowy Maccabee). Flip them over and cook on the other side:

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Then drain on paper towels:

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Since this is quite a heavy dinner (the word “gut bomb” came up), I served it with a healthy, stealthy beet salad–also quite Jewish, I think:

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I used a Barefoot Contessa recipe: there’s orange zest in there, orange juice and orange segments. And then Coach Farm goat cheese on top because Craig’s a cheese nut.

And speaking of Christian Craig, he’d never had a latke before in his whole life. Here he is sampling his very first one: (notice, they are served with apple sauce and sour cream in abundance)

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His verdict? “Oy! This latke is geshmak! I’m going to plotz.”

Make latkes tonight and celebrate your inner Jew.

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