Latkes, or potato pancakes, have been around forever. You may have a recipe from your grandmother – a recipe that she got from her mother or grandmother. This traditional Jewish dish, often served during Hanukkah, has found its way through the decades and into our hearts – many through old family recipes that are over 100 years old.
Latkes haven’t always been the same through the generations, though. Since potatoes weren’t available in ancient times, latkes were originally made with grated cheese, egg and then fried – the salty cake was served with wine. But with the introduction of potatoes to Europe, latkes changed forever and potatoes became “mainstream”.
Regardless of how they are made, latkes are popular for Hanukkah because they are oil-fried, commemorating the oil that provided light for eight days in the temple. The word “latke” has Yiddish origins and is thought to have its beginnings in Germany or Russia. When the Jewish people immigrated to the United States, latke preparation also found its way to the U.S. Thank goodness, because these treats are just as tasty as they are traditional.
Are you looking for an updated version of your old standard for Hanukkah? Please enjoy this yummy recipe from www.jewishmag.com! (We are not affiliated with this site.)
700 g (1 ½ lb) firm cooking potatoes (high starch potatoes such as russet or Idaho are preferred)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp fresh-ground black pepper
1/3 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp matzo meal
2 large eggs
30 g (1 oz or ¼ cup) onion, grated
Vegetable oil, butter or mixture
Finely grate potatoes. Line a large bowl with a kitchen towel and dump potatoes in center. Enfold potatoes in towel, and squeeze and twist to remove as much liquid into the bowl as possible. Set potatoes aside and let starch settle from potato liquid for 10 minutes.
In the meantime combine salt, pepper, baking powder and matzo meal in a second bowl, add eggs and beat lightly.
Carefully drain potato liquid but retain potato starch that settled to the bottom. Add this starch to the eggs with the grated onion and potatoes and mix well.
Heat a large, heavy fry pan over medium heat for half a minute and add a small amount of fat (oil, butter or mixture) to coat bottom. With a large spoon, drop several lemon-size latke doughs into the pan and flatten with spatula. Brown lightly on one side, then flip over to brown the second side. Continue with rest of latke dough. Keep them ready to serve on a plate in a warm oven. Latkes will not keep very long and lose a lot on reheating. Serve them very fresh.
You may serve potato latkes keeping the sour cream and applesauce tradition, or use any of your favorite toppings, such as marmalade, jam, yogurt, honey or sweet syrup. For a festive table, provide at least three choices of toppings.