Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It Takes A Tough Man To Make A Tender Latka...

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah, and I celebrated with the family.

Commemorating the victory of the Jews, led by the Maccabees (Maccabee is Hebrew for "Hammer") over the Syrians and liberation of the land of Israel from their domination, Hanukkah is a relatively minor holiday on the list of Jewish observances, now made greater due to its proximity to Christmas and the need to make Jewish kids feel less jealous of their neighbors getting all the presents.

Hanukkah also celebrates the miracle of the oil. After the liberation and re-dedication of the Temple after it had been desecrated by the Syrians, there was only sufficient oil available to light the presence lamp for one day. By a miracle it lasted the 8 day round trip to reach the nearest source of the oil.

Hannukah is celebrated by lighting the Menorah (or Hanukkiah if you prefer) and eating foods fried in oil in commemoration of this victory and miracle. There is also a lesser-known second miracle of Hanukkah, to be revealed below.

But first, the latkas!

A latka is a potato pancake - think hash brown but better.

To make the perfect batch of latkas do the following:

Maccabee-Worthy Latkas

Ingredients: 4 large baking potatoes, 1 large Onion, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of flour

Step 1. Peel potatoes, and cut into chunks. Peel the Onion (a large Vidalia is nice if the kids don't like a sharp tasting onion) and cut into 4 sections, one for each potato.

Step 2. Get out your trusty food processor and use the grater blade with the largest holes. (If you don't have one, use a grater, again using the large hole size).

Step 3. Grate one potato at a time, dropping in the quarter of the onion into the grater as you put the chunks in so the onion gets mixed in well. Continue until all the potato and onion is grated.

Step 4. Here comes the "manly" part: In a colander over a bowl, press the potato latka mixture down hard, pressing out the moisture into the bowl below. Use some paper towels to press down and get as much moisture out as you can. Then transfer the drier mix to a bowl.

Step 5. Beat three eggs until well mixed, then add the eggs and up to 1/2 a cup of all purpose flour to the mix and stir in until well mixed and you don't see any more flour.

Step 6. Heat a frying pan and add a generous quantity of oil to it, at least 1/4 inch.

Step 7. Use a soup spoon and take a scoop of the mix and place into the hot oil and tamp down to form a latka. Repeat until you have 3-4 latkas happily cooking in the pan.

Step 8. Cook until golden, brown and delicious, remove from the pan, place on a plate on some paper towel to drain and make more until the mix is done.

Step 9. Serve with Apple Sauce and Sour Cream. Enjoy.

As for the second miracle of Hannukah, it is this:

These latkas have been clogging our people's arteries for hundreds of years, yet we survive!

Happy Hanukkah!

1 comment:

Scott said...

Oh, I can smell 'em cooking!