I applaud the unwritten rule that every holiday must be honoured with festive fare. Latkes are a Hanukkah staple as we light menorahs and eat fried food to symbolise the miracle of the single cruse of oil that lasted for 8 days. These crisp mouthfuls of pure potato joy (and their root vegetable cousin varieties) are my favourite way to celebrate and consumed by the dozens. No complaints here on the fried food element of the holiday.
Like every good Jewish recipe, there are multiple opinions and endless debates on how-to, with-what and when-to make said item. So just to test the arguments, this year I’m making three varieties, with a multiple choice of toppings. Yes, we are having a Latke Party! (And there’s no better way to show off my favourite Mud Australia colours)
The straight potato latke, the OG as it’s referred to around here, will always be close to my heart in all it’s golden beauty. But I love the sweet potato parsnip variety, and the beetroot carrot and feta rounds of colourful joy feel almost virtuous in their deliciousness. All three varieties share the important rosti type quality with crunchy jagged edges, light, and not too cake-y in the middle. Basically, more hash brown, less kugel.
I’m channelling Thanksgivukkah with my toppings and marrying up some of my favourite holiday flavours. Sour cream and apple sauce will still represent (because tradition) alongside apple-cranberry sauce (my love of the ruby fruit runs so deep), a horseradish and a green goddess sour cream (colour and flavour) and some salmon roe (chic). Full disclosure, I’m not making applesauce – it shamelessly came from a jar for pure nostalgia and because I need to draw the line somewhere.
The important thing here is to take your time and don’t cheat. These latkes might look like a labour of love, but they really do not take long. They are old school in their method (thank you Oma for the tricks). For the pure potato version, please grate them by hand. It makes a massive difference to the texture (and it’s very meditative). Do not skip the wringing out all the liquid stage – it’s essential. It keeps the latkes crisp and not a hint of soggy in the middle. (You have full permission to be a little flexible with a food processor for the the root vegetable varieties as they are less starchy.)
Here’s for the real latke hack…..when you wring out the grated potato and onion mixture in a tea towel, make sure you catch all the liquid in a bowl. At the bottom, rests a thin white layer of potato starch. That is the latke miracle. Tip out the water, reserving the magic ingredient and mix it into the now liquid free grated mixture for a badass binder, creating lighter, crispier latkes. Bingo.
Please feel free to get creative with flavour and add a few spices – ground cinnamon, fennel coriander and cumin seeds, fresh herbs and a little heat don’t go amiss. Latkes also provide the backbone for a great festive dinner, topped with smoked salmon and crispy fried eggs (the fried theme is strong). While I generally reserve these as a Hanukkah treat (mainly because we consume a year’s worth in a week), they should really be made on rotation all year around. They are that good.
I created these recipes for my first in a Holiday Series collaboration with one of my favourite brands, Mud Australia. I used their charger plates for serving, dipping bowls for the sauces, pebble bowls and mixing bowls for the mixtures. Keep your eyes out for more festive treats over the next month that I will be sharing using my most beloved pieces.