Photo by Olga Massov via Flickr Creative Commons
This year Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah fall on the same day for the first time since the 1800s. The newly-coined "Thanksgivukkah" has sparked a bonanza of marketing mishegas (see: Menurkey) and a creative wave of hybrid holiday meal planning that blends traditional Hanukkah foods, like potato latkes, with a traditional Thanksgiving menu. If you're thinking about celebrating, definitely make this one count — it'll be about 70,000 until the next possible opportunity.
Why so long until the next power holiday? The short answer is conflicting calendars. TIME reports on the mechanics of these celestial scheduling issues, noting the Gregorian calendar and the Hebrew calendar are calibrated differently, leading to a variable start date for Hanukkah. Then you start factoring in leap months, and the next thing you know 70,000 years has flown by.
MAKING THE PERFECT LATKE
You only need six ingredients — potato, onion, flour, egg, salt, and oil — but don't let that fool you into thinking you can just throw it all together in a bowl. Latkes are not difficult to make, but they are labor intensive. These are the hand shredded, no food processor version for people who like doing things the hard way. It's tradition.
If you want to be a ganze macher this yontif and appeal to the big fressers in your mishpucha, just follow this Bubby-inspired recipe. No need to take out your index cards; there are no measurements here, only technique. Real latkes are made by feel. You have to follow your kishkes:
- Shred washed and unpeeled Russet potatoes using the large holes on a box grater.
- Immediately rinse shreds until water runs clear and all they're not slippery.
- Toss clean shreds into a large pot of ice water as you work.
- Repeat for all potatoes.
- Shred a few large yellow onions with the same grater.
- Drain potato shreds and press out all water with a towel.
- Mix in onion, beaten egg and flour until the mixture holds together and is "not too wet, not too dry."
- Fry large, pressed tablespoonfuls in a deep pan filled with hot Canola oil.
- Brown and flip.
- Remove latkes onto paper towels.
- Sprinkle with kosher salt.
- Serve with cranberry apple sauce and Sriracha sour cream.
- To reduce burning, remove rogue shreds from oil before frying next batch.
Mazel tov, mis amigos.
What's the difference between a potato latke an a potato pancake?
Nothing. They have many aliases.
How can I minimize the risk of losing a knuckle on the grater?
Stay calm. And no matter how exciting that game of dreidel in the next room sounds, do not take your eyes off the spud.
What's the significance of eating latkes on Hanukkah?
The significance is tied to the story of Hanukkah and the "miracle" of lamp oil lasting a week longer than it should have. To commemorate, candles are lit for 8 days, and fried foods, like jelly donuts and potatoes, are consumed. If you were planning to deep fry your turkey this year, you may be unintentionally celebrating Hanukkah.
I've had mashed potato-type pancakes. Is this the same thing?
Not exactly, but many people still consider them legitimate. There's a very strong faction of from-the-box latke lovers who grew up on the matzo meal mix or a potato puree/mash version.
How do you make your latkes?