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  • Melissa Tayar

Special Occasion: You’ll Latke These a Lot

(We just can’t let a good pun go.) We wanted to bring you a killer potato-pancake recipe, so we asked home cook Melissa Tayar (her latkes bring all the boys to the yard) for her tips on how to celebrate Hanukkah with oily goodness.

First things first—here's what you'll need to make approximately 18 latkes:

3 russet potatoes

½ onion

1 egg

2 tbsp flour

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

vegetable oil

Let me start the same way I do when I visit my kids’ classrooms every December. Here’s my lesson: Latkes are traditionally eaten during the festival of Hanukkah. (You probably knew that but just playing it safe here.) They’re wolfed down to commemorate the miracle of the Maccabees reclaiming the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. As the story goes, when the Maccabees went to light the menorah in the temple, they found only enough oil for one night. The miracle? The oil lasted for eight days, after which time they were able to find more. So, basically, we eat a ton of oily foods during this holiday—we’re talking latkes and donuts (which we call soufganiyot… *mouth waters*) during our celebration.

It feels pretty fitting that combining simple ingredients like potatoes, onion, egg, flour, salt and pepper could create something as delectable as latkes.

They’re actually super easy to make—all you need are those basic ingredients and the understanding that your house, clothing and hair will indeed smell like fried foods for at least a couple days.

I start by peeling my potatoes and adding them to a bowl of cold water so that they don’t brown. Then I peel the onion and set it aside. I like to use my food processor, but you can use a box grater if you prefer. I drain the potatoes and grate them in the processor with the onions. I start and end with onion as it helps keep the potatoes from turning brown. Next, I empty the potato and onion mixture into a colander and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. I throw it into a mixing bowl and add in the egg, flour, salt and pepper. Give it a good mix and cover with a piece of wet paper towel until you are ready to fry.

You’ll want to heat up a big pan with enough oil to coat the bottom and come up about three-quarters-of-an-inch high. I prefer to use vegetable oil because it’s mild and doesn’t add in any flavour that might take away from the taste of the simple ingredients. Keep your stove on medium-high heat. When the oil starts to sizzle and spit and you end up inadvertently burning your hand, you’re ready. Using a spoon, get a 2 tbsp portion of the potato mixture and drop it into the oil. I don’t squish it down; I like having a unique shape for each latke. Don’t overcrowd, either—physical distance the latkes in your pan by doing a few at a time. Let it sit and do its thing for about 3 to 4 min., until the bottom gets crispy. Then flip. Fry the other side for an additional 3 min. When both sides are golden, take them out. I like to put a metal cooling rack on a baking sheet that has some paper towel on it to catch any oil that drips off the latkes. This will let your them drain some of the oil without getting soggy on the bottom. You can keep them on the rack in a warm oven until you are ready to serve, which you should absolutely do with the very traditional sour cream and applesauce combo.


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