Jewish fathers of America, we invite you to take the #DadLatkeChallenge.
Here’s how it will work: Dads, make the latkes this Hanukkah and take a photograph of you with them. (We’d also encourage you to do the food shopping and guest inviting, if you like.) Then share the photograph on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #DadLatkeChallenge. (If you are not on social media, feel free to email your picture to email@example.com) We will be publishing the best pictures in the Forward later in December, and will be picking one dad at random to receive a package of Jewish-themed cookbooks that just might inspire future excursions into the kitchen.
To get you all started, we’ve asked the award-winning chef and Forward 50 nominee Alon Shaya to share his personal latke recipe with us. He has great suggestions on incorporating the new into the Hanukkah meal while preserving the old. — Elissa Strauss
One of my favorite things about being a chef is the yearly rotation of seasons and the holiday foods that come along with them. Each year I look forward to Hanukkah, when I can grate potatoes and turn them into something golden and tasty.
My wife, Emily, and I usually have a latke party at our house for friends. We lay out lots of topping options. Instead of sour cream I’ll make some whipped feta cheese. Instead of applesauce, I’ll make an apple-and-walnut jam with Italian dessert wine, which is always a crowd-pleaser. I recommend that you think outside the box and consider smoked whitefish salad, salmon roe with frisée and lemon, and a curried egg salad as potential mind blowers for your latke spread.
When I make latkes, I keep a couple of tricks up my sleeve, like using cornstarch instead of flour, and whipping the egg whites to give the latkes a crunchy outside with a creamy inside. At my house I cook them on a griddle flat top, but a good cast iron skillet is also perfect to ensure that your latkes develop a thick, golden crust. Don’t be so worried about getting that crust on both sides — the side you place down first will always look the best and should be served facing up. Enjoy! — Alon Shaya
Alon Shaya’s Latke Recipe
3 ¾ pounds russet potatoes, peeled and grated
1 cup lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons salt
1 bunch green onions
½ cup cornstarch
7 egg whites, whipped until frothy
PROCESS: Grate the russet potatoes and onions through a cheese grater. (The weight of the potatoes and onions in the recipe is after they are grated.)
Combine the grated onion, potato, salt and lemon juice, and place in a towel over a colander to drain. Add weight to the colander to press out any excess liquid. Let the mixture sit for 1 hour, then ring it out to dry it even more. Fold the whipped egg whites, cornstarch and green onions into the russet mixture. Pan-fry the latkes in thin, even layers in clarified butter until golden brown on both sides. Canola oil can be substituted for clarified butter.
For clarified butter: Place the butter in a saucepan and slowly melt over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Skim the foam from the top, and slowly pour into a container, discarding the milky solids at the bottom of pan.
Alon Shaya is the executive chef and partner at Domenica; its more casual sister restaurant, Pizza Domenica, and the modern Israeli restaurant Shaya, all in New Orleans. A leader in the culinary community, he most recently won the 2015 James Beard Foundation Award for “Best Chef — South.”