Updated: May 6
I love the holidays. From October basically straight through to February basically is the best time of the year. Every month has a holiday: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah, New Year’s, and my birthday (okay maybe not a holiday but it should be hehe). Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite. What’s not to love? It’s a holiday where everyone eats!! A foodie’s dream. But once Thanksgiving comes to a close and we resurface from our food comas, it’s Christmas time.
As a Jew, I love Christmas. Especially when it snows a lot—and I mean A LOT. However, Christmas music should only start after Thanksgiving. You can’t tell me otherwise. Christmas time though is a great time of the year. Christmas lights, Christmas trees, everyone seems super happy and cheerful, and everything just smells of cinnamon.
December is also an important month for Jews because it’s Hanukkah. Hanukkah is the festival of lights where Jews gather round and watch the Rugrats Hanukkah special and listen to Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah song on repeat. But actually we celebrate the Maccabees rising up against the oppressing Greek-Syrians and celebrate the miracle of one day of oil lasting eight nights in the Second Temple of Jerusalem.
The way we celebrate today is by lighting our menorahs for eight nights, spinning dreidels and basically gambling, and enjoying delicious potato latkes!
Potato latkes, or potato pancakes, are some of the best Jewish foods ever. Matzoh ball soup is number one because nothing beats soup but latkes come very very close. These starchy pancakes are fried to crisp perfect but the inside is moist and fluffy. When you top it with a heaping dollop of sour cream (and I guess applesauce if you’re into that), it’s the best bite.
A few tips on potato latkes. First, I recommend using a food processor to grate the potatoes. If you have a cheese grater that works, too, but it’ll just take a lot of time and it’s just exhausting. Second, potatoes have a surprising amount of moisture in them. Once shredded, be sure to thoroughly wring out any excess water in the potatoes. These will make your latkes nice and crispy. Third, I found it super easy to make these in my stand mixer. Just attach the paddle attachment and mix away. Last, latkes are unfortunately messy. Make sure you have plenty of paper towels ready for cleanup.
Makes about 6
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and grated
½ onion, finely chopped
½ cup flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
Using a food processor or cheese grater, grate the potatoes. Wring out the shredded potatoes using cheese cloth or paper towels. Place drained potatoes in a large bowl.
Chop the onion and add to the potatoes. Add in the flour, egg, salt, pepper, and paprika and mix until combined.
In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Use enough vegetable oil so there is about ½ in. of oil in the pan (approximately less than ½ cup but you might need to add more). Meanwhile, line a plate with paper towels.
Place large handfuls of the potato mixture into the hot oil. Watch for oil splashes. Be sure not to crowd the pan (usually three or four at a time fits well). Cook on both sides until crispy golden brown, about 3 minutes each side.
Put the cooked latkes on the lined plate to absorb excess oil.
Enjoy with sour cream and/or applesauce.