This post comes courtesy of chefs and cookbook authors Max and Eli Sussman.
However you spell it, with C’s or H’s and any wide variety of N usages, Chanukah is a time to embrace the technique of frying in your kitchen. Since the holiday celebrates a miracle involving oil, fried food is the focal point of the meal.
On the menu:
The most iconic Hannakah food item is the latke and it is essential to your feast. You can’t have a Chanukah meal with out it. But latkes can often can lead to a mess and the frying of potatoes carries a… distinct smell which can loiter for long after the guests depart. So it’s worth it for yourself, your housemates and guests to keep the kitchen fan on full blast, wear an apron to protect your holiday outfit and keep the windows open (if you can stomach that in the end of December).
Since the oil tends to splatter, our dad has a trick in which he puts layers of newspaper down on the floor in front of the stove while he fries the latkes. It’ll help you avoid slipping and makes cleanup a lot easier.
We created this menu centered around the meat because, well, we love meat and it’s totally delicious. Fried Chicken and Latkes (The Waffle House Jewish special) takes care of the oil requirement, and brisket covers the red meat end of the Jewish food spectrum. But let us be clear: If you do nothing else on Chanukah, you’ve gotta eat latkes or you just aren’t celebrating the holiday properly. A latke, which we’ll often describe to people as a “Jewish hash brown patty” is a great vessel for sauces, but we really consider it a side and not the main dish, so we had to toss the chicken on there.
For the brisket — whether you’ve got a secret sweet and sour family recipe passed down through the generations or you just remember your grandma making brisket around Jewish holidays — we know that with brisket on the table, it’ll stir up old memories and feel like a traditional Jewish meal.
To round out our menu we chose this delicious Acorn squash rings recipe, because our mom often makes something very similar and being away from our mom this Chanukah makes us miss her and her cooking! And the salad is a fresh, non-fried foil to the heaviness of the entrees.
While we don’t have a recipe here for donuts because we figure you’d be “fried-out” by dessert time, sofganeyot are a traditional Chanukah dessert item, so find a bakery and pick some up for the end of the meal. Our grandma always made jello for Jewish holidays, so to steal the marketing slogan from them, on Chanukah there’s always room for donuts.
So go forth — eat fried foods (until you are stuffed, Thanksgiving-style), play dreidel (most likely poorly after googling the rules), and explain the story of Chanukah to your guests, which if you remember it correctly from Sunday school is a miracle itself.
About the authors: Max and Eli Sussman grew up outside of Detroit Michigan and have been cooking since high school. Max is currently the Chef De Cuisine at Roberta’s in Brooklyn which recently received 2 stars from the New York Times. He has previously worked at The Breslin in Manhattan and was the Chef De Cuisine at Eve in Ann Arbor Michigan. Eli is a line cook at Mile End in Brooklyn. He previously wrote for LAist.com and is on the Board of Taste of the Nation NYC. They are both closely affiliated with Share our Strength, an organization working to end childhood hunger in America.They live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn NYC. Their website is www.thesussmanbrothers.com