I hereby dedicate these latkes to Dan, who, on Thursday morning, offered to drive me to the ER after I had a close encounter with my 10-inch chef's knife. Let's just say I came out the loser in that particular battle, and I'm not jonesing for a re-match anytime soon.
I'll back up. We'd been having some electrical issues, so Dan the handyman was over doing handymany electricalish-type things. I was making soup, and in my haste, while I was cutting an onion -- well, let's just say there was blood. Dan, to his credit, and with his hands tangled in electrical wires, tried to distract me with soothing small talk as I applied pressure to my wound and did my best not to faint.
So how was your Thanksgiving? he asked.
Oh, it was great, I answered. We went to Berkeley, and we had turkey, and blahbity blah blah blah...
And then, to be polite, and to distract myself further from my hemorrhaging finger, I initiated small talk back. Something possessed me to ask him the one question people always ask me this time of year, a question that tends to vex me with its presumption:
So, I asked, do you have any big plans for Christmas?
And Dan looked at me and smiled, which must have been hard given my rather shocking and blood-spewing condition, and he replied:
Actually, I celebrate Hanukkah.
And I was like:
No way! I celebrate Hanukkah, too!
And so we bonded about Hanukkah.
Then Colin came home and took me to the doctor, who proceeded to do things to my finger with needles and stitches, things I would rather not discuss.
So if you, too, celebrate Hanukkah, I offer you my heartfelt wishes for a happy holiday filled with sweetness and joy. May your sour cream be fresh, may your apple sauce be fruity, may your latkes be crisp, and may you always, always have a Jewish handyman in your home if you happen to sever a digit while making soup.
Alison's Famous Hanukkah Latkes
I posted about this recipe from my dear friend Alison last year, but I'm re-printing it again because it's so fantastic. I even made up a batch earlier today, and plan to cook still more later this weekend.
Makes approximately 40 latkes, give or take
10 russet potatoes
4 yellow onions, peeled and halved
1/2 cup matzoh meal (roughly)
Sour cream and apple sauce, for serving
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Peel the potatoes and plunge them in a large bowl with cold water. Either cut them into large chunks and shred them and the onions in a food processor, OR keep the potatoes whole and grate them on the large holes of a box grater (with the onions).
In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly and set aside.
Transfer a few handfuls of shredded potatoes and onions to a double-thickness of paper towels, and squeeze out as much liquid as you can muster. Place in the bowl with the eggs and repeat with remaining potatoes and onions. You'll use quite a few paper towels, so be prepared.
Stir in the matzoh meal and season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well with a fork, making sure to distribute the eggs thoroughly.
Heat a few glugs of oil in a large heavy skillet (you'll use about 1/4 cup oil at first, but you'll keep adding more) over medium-high heat. To see if the oil is ready, put in a pinch of potato mixture; if it sizzles and turns golden in about 10 seconds, the oil is ready. Use an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measure to form the latkes; drop in the oil and flatten gingerly with a spatula. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. As you proceed, the pan will get hotter and the oil will need to be replenished. Adjust the heat and add new oil as necessary. Carefully remove any burnt particles.
When latkes are done, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle immediately with salt. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and keep hot in the oven. Repeat until you've cooked all the latkes.
Serve hot, with apple sauce and sour cream on the side.