Chanukah is just around the corner and it is time to reinvent some of my favorite recipes.

Growing up as an Ashkenazi Jew in America, Chanukah is synonymous with latkes (as comparison to Israel which sufganiot are much more popular). I remember my mom prepping and frying hundreds of these potato latkes for our annual Chanukah party. Flash forward to present day….In my normal diet I try to avoid fried foods completely, but on Chanukah they are encouraged as oil is a symbol of the Chanukah miracle. Forget the Chanukah story? Long story short, the Greeks attempted to defile and destroy all the oil in the Holy Temple. The oil that was left should have only lasted one day, but rather lasted eight days.  This is the miracle we celebrate by lighting the candles and eating oily foods.

Interestingly, the potato does not tie back to the original story. There were no Maccabees eating potatoes and spinning sevivon. Rather, potato latkes are derived from recent history going back only a few generations to the Shtetl in Eastern Europe. I have embarked on a few potato tangents before, but I find it fascinating that a food that was not introduced to Europe until the Spanish conquest of South America became ubiquitous in Ashkenazic cooking by the nineteenth century. Making potato latkes connects me symbolically to the Jews of the torah, but more directly to my great-great grandmother’s dinner table.

Chanukah, similar to American holidays, is the definition of cheating on your healthy diet. However, I did make a few changes to the recipe to not let the situation get too out of control….Traditionally, latkes are made with russet potatoes, onions, flour, eggs and vegetable oil. I am definitely not a perfect clean eater. When I do splurge and get something fried I always crave sweet potato fries. They are just soooooo much better than normal fries right? I had a strong hypothesis that this same principle should apply here as well with latkes. To make the traditional recipe a bit healthier (I mean we are frying here guys!) I recommend using yams or sweet potatoes, gluten free flour and always using organic olive oil rather than vegetable oil. My hunch turned out to be correct as my guests told me “these are the tastiest latkes I have ever had!”

Serve these delicious latkes warm with a side of apple sauce (recipe to come!) or sour cream. Beteavon!

Ingredients

  • 3 organic sweet potatoes
  • 1 organic russet potato
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 tbs kosher salt
  • 3 cage-free eggs
  • 1/4 cup of brown rice flour (gluten free)
  • Organic olive oil for frying

Yield – around a dozen latkes

{Gluten-free, Parve or Dairy}

Recipe:

  1. Peel the potatoes. Grate the potatoes and onion either by hand or by using the grating attachment of your food processor. Immediately transfer the potatoes once grated to a large bowl with ice cold water. This helps prevent the russet potato from browning.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a separate large bowl: onion, salt, flour and eggs. Drain the potatoes in a colander until all of the water is squeezed out. (This is an extremely key step as the latkes won’t hold together if they are soggy.) Mix the potatoes with the other ingredients.FullSizeRender (32)FullSizeRender (33)
  3. Add 3-5 tbs of olive oil to fill the skillet about 1/4 inch deep. Heat the oil until it reaches 325-350 degrees F. To ensure equal sizing, use a measuring cup to add 1/3 cup of batter to the skillet. The batter should sizzle (if it doesn’t your oil is not hot enough). Press down firmly with a spatula on the top of the pancake to create a nice uniform disc. Fry for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
    1. Note on oil temperature: If the oil is too cool the potato will absorb all of the oil and get really greasy. If the oil is too hot it will just burn the outside and the inside will be mushy. Before committing to the first latke I recommend dropping small pieces of the batter into the skillet to test and ensure it is the right temperature.
  4. Move the finished latke to a paper towel lined baking sheet (this helps get rid of extra oil). Once the sheet is filled keep in the oven at 170 degrees F to keep warm for your guests.FullSizeRender (34)
  5. Add apple sauce or sour cream to the warm latke and enjoy!FullSizeRender (31)

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