Margaret Hathaway lives with her family on Ten Apple Farm, a homestead in southern Maine, where they raise dairy goats and poultry, tend a large garden and a small orchard, and make cheese. They also give occasional workshops on basic homesteading skills and offer goat hikes and Margaret is the author of The Year of the Goat and the Portland, Maine Chef’s Table, among other books.
In honor of Hanukkah, Margaret is sharing her family’s recipe for potato latkes, along with a bit of history.
Hanukkah is the festival of light, a Jewish holiday celebrating the victory of the Maccabees over the despot Antiochus, and the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. According to the Talmud, a miracle occurred when a small amount of holy oil in the Temple lasted for eight days. Jews around the world traditionally celebrate Hanukkah by lighting candles in a menorah, spinning a four-sided top called a dreidel, and eating fried foods such as Israeli jelly donuts called sufganiyot and potato latkes.
My husband Karl is the designated latke-maker in our family and in honor of the holiday, he doesn’t skimp on the oil! I try to round out the meal with a pile of lightly steamed broccoli dressed in lemon and a green salad tossed with avocado chunks, grapefruit sections, a little extra virgin olive oil, and a scattering of crunchy salt like Maldon’s. Our favorite latke potato is a purple variety called Magic Molly, a firm potato with a vivid purple coloring and a particularly earthy taste. This recipe works with any potato variety, but best with one that’s firm and slightly waxy.
Ten Apple Farm Potato Latkes
Makes 20-24 3-inch latkes
- 2 lbs potatoes, scrubbed
- 2-3 small/medium onions
- kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup matzo meal
- Canola Oil or schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) or combination of the two
- Applesauce, sour cream, and sugar, for serving
- Leave the vegetables as whole as possible and using the grating attachment of a food processor, grate potatoes and onions together. (You can also grate by hand, but to achieve the right texture you want to keep the strands as long as possible.)
- Empty grated potatoes and onions into a large bowl and sprinkle with kosher salt, tossing to distribute the salt evenly. \
- Transfer the mixture to a colander and let drain for 5-10 minutes, pressing occasionally to release liquid.
- Return approximately one-third of the grated and drained potato/onion mixture to the bowl of the food processor and pulse, using the standard chopping blade. Chop until smooth.
- In a large bowl, combine the grated potatoes and onions with the chopped mixture.
- Add the eggs, matzo meal and a little more salt to the bowl and mix well.
- If the mixture seems too loose, you can add a touch more matzo meal to thicken it.
- In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of canola oil, schmaltz, or a combination of the two until hot. You can test with a drop of water: if it sizzles, the oil is ready.
- Using a large wooden spoon, drop mixture by spoonfuls into hot oil, smoothing the top a little to flatten each latke. Fry until crisp, golden, and well done on both sides.
- Drain latkes on a brown paper bag on a cookie sheet and place in a warm oven while cooking remaining latkes.
- Serve with applesauce, sour cream, or sprinkled with a little sugar.