Jews all over the world will celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, which begins this year on Sunday, December 2 at sundown and ends Monday, December 10 at sundown. This holiday is a celebration of freedom and is very much a family holiday. Jewish families light the Hanukkah menorah, adding one light each night, exchange small gifts, play dreidel, a gambling game played often with pennies or candy (M&Ms are our favorites), sing songs and eat latkes (potato pancakes) or doughnuts (sufganiyot), because they are fried in oil. The oil the latkes are fried in represents the miracle of the small container of oil that burned for eight days in the Hanukkah story and reminds us of the freedom for which we are thankful. My favorite latke recipe follows:
5-6 large baking potatoes, shredded in a processor
3 large eggs
2 Tablespoons flour
½ onion, chopped into small pieces
1. Wrap the shredded potatoes in one or two smaller batches in cloth kitchen towels and thoroughly wring out the liquid from the potatoes. This step will help make sure that the potatoes cook up crispy.
2. In a large bowl, mix the potatoes with the eggs, onion and flour.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom. When the oil is hot, drop tablespoons of the potato mixture into the oil and flatten slightly. Fry until brown and crispy on one side (a minute or two), then flip and fry the other side. Add more potato mixture when the first batch is finished. Remove fried latkes to a cookie sheet or plate. You will need to add more oil for each batch and maybe some during each frying.
4. Line a couple of cookie sheets with paper towels to put the latkes on when they are done to soak up any extra grease. Layer the paper towels so that I can put more than one layer of latkes on each sheet. They can be put in a 200 degree oven to stay warm.
5. Serve with applesauce or sour cream. They can be made ahead and then reheated in a 350 degree oven, but they don’t stay as crisp that way. You can double the recipe.