If there’s any dish that just screams ‘Hanukkah,’ it’s potato latkes. Latkes are traditional Hanukkah fare not for the dish itself, but for the oil its fried in. Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Lights; it celebrates the miracle of one day’s worth of oil lasting for eight days. Over 2000 years ago, the city of Jerusalem was under Syrian-Greek control. Specifically, the king Antiochus IV Epiphanes reversed the rule of his father in allowing Jews to practice their religion and began persecuting the Jewish people. Their religion was banned, they were ordered to worship traditional Greek gods, many were massacred, and the Temple in Jerusalem was desecrated. A Jewish rebellion broke out, led by the Maccabees, which eventually drove the Syrian-Greeks out of Jerusalem. Once this occurred, the Jews set about cleaning and restoring the Temple. Once the Temple was rededicated, there was only a small amount of oil, enough that would keep the menorah lit for one day. The flame was supposed to stay lit continuously, but no one knew how the oil would last. The miracle was that the oil lasted for eight days, until the supply could be replenished. Jewish sages of the time proclaimed this miracle and thus created the holiday of Hanukkah – the Festival of Lights!
For this recipe, I used Tori Avey’s recipe and tips & tricks to try to make this the best batch possible. The goal is to have a crispy exterior with a warm and soft interior. Traditionally, you would top your Hanukkah latkes with applesauce or sour cream, but since we ate our with the delicious Wine & Honey Brisket that had plenty of pan sauce in which to dip the latkes if needed!
(Adapted from toriavey.com)
- 2 medium Russet potatoes (~1lb)
- 1 small onion
- 1/2 cup matzo meal/crushed matzo crackers
- 2 egg, whisked
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Few turns of fresh ground black pepper
- Peel and then grate the potatoes. Submerge the potato shreds in cold water while working.
- Quarter the onion and then run it through a food processor.
- Drain the potato shreds through a doubled cheesecloth.
- Add the onion to the potato in the cheesecloth. Squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible.
- Combine the potato and onion with the matzo meal, the egg, salt, and pepper.
- Pour enough oil into your pan to form a layer ~1/8th inch thick. Goal temperature for frying = 360-375 degrees – you can check with a candy thermometer if you have one.
- Form a small patty with your hands, roughly 3 tbsp worth. Test this first one to make sure your oil is a good temperature. Should be 2-3 minutes per side, yielding crispy brown edges with a soft interior.
- Set the latkes on a wire rack to cool, with paper towels underneath. Serve while still warm.
Makes 8-10 latkes