Holiday Fare

Thanksgivingukkah Latkes

It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to eat potato latkes with turkey gravy.

By Robb Walsh November 26, 2013

Image: Robb Walsh

If you're looking for a restaurant serving Hannukah latkes, try the potato pancakes at Kenny & Ziggy's, which come three to an order with the traditional accompaniments of sour cream and applesauce. They aren't the style of latkes I am used to, but they are very good.

Kenny & Ziggy's New York Deli
2327 Post Oak Blvd.
713 871-8883

My first wife was Jewish, and her West Hartford, Connecticut family favored the grated-potato-and-onion style of latkes that are bound together by just a little beaten egg and flour. These are the kind of latkes I learned to cook.

Many Hannukah celebrants prefer the denser style of pancakes that are mostly potato flour. Ziggy's splits the difference with a half grated potato and half potato flour version. Given the odd holiday overlap this year, I predict more people than usual will be experimenting with sweet potato latkes.

The rare convergence of Thanksgiving and Hannukah won't be repeated for something like 70,000 years, so if you have always dreamed of eating potato pancakes for Thanksgiving, this may be your one and only chance. Here's a recipe for my favorite style of latkes.

Potato Latkes

Recipe courtesy of the Jewish Outreach Institute

We eat latkes (potato pancakes) because they are cooked in oil and thus remind us of the miracle of the single cruse (a pitcher of oil). Rabbi Solomon Freehof, a great contemporary Jewish scholar, has hypothesized that the eating of latkes may have grown out of an old custom of eating milchig (dairy) foods on Hanukkah.

Milchig foods evolved into milchig pancakes and then into latkes, possibly because the main potato crop became available about the time of Hanukkah. No one knows for certain how the association began, but for anyone who feasts on latkes at Hanukkah time, a historical rationale is unnecessary.

  • 12 large potatoes, grated
  • 3 medium onions, grated
  • 4 eggs, beaten lightly
  • 5 tbs. flour  
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • Oil for deep frying

The secret to great latkes is to remove as much liquid from the potatoes and onions as possible. Put the grated potatoes in a clean tea towel and squeeze the liquid out of the mixture. Do the same for the grated onions. Combine all the ingredients and mix together well by hand.

In a heavy skillet, put a 3/4" deep layer of oil. Heat until sizzling. Form individual pancakes by hand and carefully slide into the pan using a slotted spatula. Fill the pan, but leave room between the pancakes. When the latkes are nicely browned on one side, turn carefully and cook until browned on the other side and crisp on the edges.

Remove with a spatula and place on paper towels. Let the excess grease drain onto the paper towel. Serve immediately for the best taste. You can keep the latkes hot in a warm oven. Serve with sour cream or applesauce, or sprinkle with granulated sugar.



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