Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah and I'm so excited. I look forward to this meal all year long and this stretch when Hanukkah and Christmas overlap make things all the more special for us since we celebrate both holidays in our house.
Tonight we're keeping things classic. Richard will be making the brisket and I'm on latke detail. I'm making them the traditional way with shredded potatoes, matzoh meal, shredded shallots, egg and salt and sometimes I like to sneak flax seeds in them, just for a little boost in nutrition. (Sorry traditionalists!) Plus, I like the extra little crunch. Then to top them off, I'm making a fresh horseradish labneh. Labneh, if you haven't heard of it before, is typically used in Middle Eastern cuisine and it it's strained Greek yogurt so that it's so thick and rich and supremely tangy. I can't get enough of it and have taken to totally switching it out for sour cream. I've seen it at some Whole Foods and it can definitely be found in Middle Eastern markets. If you live in the Greater Boston area, hit up the Armenian markets in Watertown to grab some.
Here's my latke recipe. Even if you don't celebrate Hanukkah, give these guys a whirl. Also, for a fun change of pace, shred other root vegetables like beets, parsnips, carrots and turnips to the potatoes or you could do any combination of shredded root vegetables.
Classic Potato Latkes with Fresh Horseradish Labneh
3 cups shredded Russet potatoes
2 shallots, shredded
1/4 cup flaxseeds (optional)
1/4 cup matzoh meal
Salt to taste
Olive oil, for the pan
1/2 cup Labneh or Greek Yogurt
1 tablespoon freshly grated horseradish, or 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish (or to taste)
1/4 cup chopped chives (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375. In a large bowl, combine the shredded potatoes, shredded shallots, flaxseeds and matzoh meal. Add the egg and salt (start with a teaspoon or so). Take a little bit of the batter into your hands and give it a squeeze. If the mixture clumps together and stays together then you're good to go. If the mixture is too liquidy and doesn't form a ball in your hands, add more matzoh meal until it does.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet for a couple of minutes. Scoop a small amount of the potato mixture into your hands. Squeeze it together to remove any extra liquid. Shape the potato mixture into a pancake shape and transfer to the hot oil. Fit as many as you can into the pan without crowding the space. Once the potatoes have browned on one side, about 3-5 minutes, flip them to brown them on the other side. Working in batches, repeat this process until the potato mixture is used up. Once the latkes have browned on both sides, transfer them to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake them in the oven, just to make sure they have cooked all the way through. This also helps them stay nice and crispy. Keep them in a low oven until ready to serve. Garnish with chopped chives.
To make the horseradish labneh, combine the fresh horseradish, or prepared horseradish, with the labneh or Greek yogurt. Serve alongside the latkes.