If you’re looking for a fun, casual approach to your Hanukkah, we love the idea of a potluck-style gathering focusing on the centerpiece of the Hanukkah meal: latkes! Served with a variety of dipping sauces and a big seasonal salad, latkes are super easy to customize and allow everyone a turn at the stove. Read on for recipes, variations and entertaining tips.
Instruct your guests: Tell your invitees to bring their own latke recipe, one that makes up to 12 latkes. Encourage your guests to get creative; sweet potatoes, carrots, apple, fennel, parsnips and celery root can all flavor to classic potato latkes.
Get prepared: Set the table and make your salad and dipping sauces ahead of time. Put several frying pans on the stove so pairs of guests can fry at that same time. Make your latke mixture as close as possible to frying time so it doesn’t get soggy or mushy.
Let the frying begin: Make sure you have your kitchen fan on and give your guests aprons to wear in case of oil spatters. Another trick we learned from the Sussman brothers is to put newspapers on the floor to prevent slippage.
While potatoes are the classic latke ingredient, most root vegetables and tubers lend themselves these crispy vegetable pancakes. The trick is to make sure the mixture doesn’t get too wet; squeeze out moisture from your mixture before you start frying. For frying, use a mild oil like vegetable or olive oil.
CLASSIC POTATO LATKES
1 small yellow onion, quartered
2 large russet potatoes, cut into large chunks
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
In a food processor fitted with the shredding disk, chop the onion using on-off pulses. Add the potatoes and process until finely chopped, with some texture remaining; do not overprocess. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the eggs, olive oil, flour and baking powder, season with salt and pepper, and stir until well combined.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels. In a large nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, pour in oil to a depth of 1/8 inch and heat until a small piece of bread dropped into the oil sizzles and begins to fry. Working in batches, use a large spoon to drop the batter (about 2 Tbs. per latke) into the hot oil, flattening with the back of the spoon. Fry, turning once, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the latkes to the prepared baking sheet to drain, then serve immediately. Makes 6 to 8 latkes.
Sweet potatoes: substitute one russet potato for one sweet potato
Carrots: add two shredded carrots to the mixture
Green onions: chop two green onions and add to the mixture
Parsnips: add two shredded parsnips to the mixture
Fresh herbs, like parsley or chives: add 1/2 cup of fresh chopped herbs
Applesauce (make it sweet and spiced by adding 1 Tbsp each cinnamon, light brown sugar, granulated sugar and 1 tsp. ground ginger to every 1 cup applesauce)
Lox sauce (mix 1 cup of sour cream with 3 oz diced lox and 1 Tbsp minced chives
Sauces adapted from This is a Cookbook by Eli and Max Sussman