Tonight will be the fifth night of Hanukkah, meaning I’m right on schedule. I have entered into the arena of latke fatigue — and perhaps you have to. It’s at this point in the holiday that I have had more than one too many classic, plain potato latkes. Many of them were delicious, made up of layers of pillowy shredded potatoes surrounded by perfectly crisp and crackly edges. But, at this point, both my mind and my palate are coated in a thick layer of oil and are in need of something new — a flavor to temper the richness of all the oil. If I were a chef on a cook-off show, this is when I would reach for the “acid,” to “balance the flavors.”
To find latke inspiration, I had to leave tradition aside to seek out something different — and, I knew just where to find it. For the past four years, the New York’s Annual Latke Festival has pitted chefs from some of the city’s top restaurants against one another in a latke showdown. This year was no different: 17 chefs took on the challenge to create a latke that would satisfy some 300 guests and a group of judges with some very serious food credentials.
While our blogger Temim Fruchter has been on the search for the perfect Hanukkah donut, I have been hunting down an unusual and creative gourmet latke as a reprieve from classic recipes. So far this year I have sampled 14 varieties – ranging from classic to topped with braised beef, purple potato to ginger and pork belly-stuffed (yes, pork belly, more on that later) – and while my desire for fried potatoes has been satisfied twice over, my appetite for a truly intriguing latke has only barely been whetted.
Innovation in the arena of latkes seems to go one of two ways. Either the cook dresses the latke, as New York Times columnist Melissa Clark proposes in a recent Dining section article, or the cook remakes the latke by adding ingredients or seasoning the of the potato.
This week in the world of Jewish food we’ve all been lusting after delicious fried Hanukkah goods, but in case you need a break, we bring you some healthy Hanukkah culinary options as well. Happy Hanukkah.
For Hanukkah recipes from Mario Batali’s Latkes with Apple Sauce to Brisket Bourguignon check out Serious Eats’ Hanukkah page.
But the recipe we’re really dying to try right now is The Kitchn’s innovative Apple and Cheese-Stuffed Latkes.
The unofficial state motto of Oregon is “Things look different here,” and it’s true. More to the point, people who live here look at things differently. So when the Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz steering committee met to talk about upcoming events a few months ago, we decided to take a fresh look at (or taste of) latkes.
We all love latkes. But let’s face it; after years of potato-oniony goodness, we decided it be more interesting to try some alternative recipes that would give everyone some new ideas for their own upcoming Hanukkah celebration. More importantly, this event was an opportunity to get together, cook and eat; what more could you ask from a gathering of Jews?