Potato Latkes with Spiced Applesauce

It never ceases to impress me how many ways there are to combine three simple ingredients, potatoes, onion and egg, but this is by leaps and bounds the best I know. I keep reading blogs and recipes that try to spice up the classic, but why try to mess with perfection?

A running argument with a friend on the origin of potato latkes was partially resolved by a guest on a recent episode of the Leonard Lopate show. Rabbi Gil Marks, author of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, goes in depth on the history and travel of the Latke, from a cheese fritter in Italy, to a kasha pancake in the Ukraine to the final permutation when the potato enters popular consumption in Germany and then Eastern Europe. Some love them with onion, some without. Some prefer sour cream as the condiment of choice, others applesauce (although I’m partial to both). I’m simultaneously posting my applesauce recipe, a spicy variety with coriander and nutmeg.  While sweet, the apples have a brightness that cuts through the oiliness of the pancakes.

Potato Latkes

Ingredients

  • 6 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and grated (these are less likely to turn gray)
  • 3 tablespoons matzo meal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 white onion, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • Vegetable oil

Preparation

Combine matzo meal, eggs, salt and pepper. Drain the grated potatoes well and add to the mix along with grated onion. Stir to combine. Add the juice of half a lemon to prevent graying of the potato. Get a few teaspoons of oil very hot in a frying pan before adding small dollops of potato mixture. Spread out with the back of the spatula to get an even pancake. Fry till golden brown on both sides (a couple minutes on each side) and they will be fully cooked on the inside. Serve with applesauce or sour cream (or both).

Spiced Applesauce

Servings: about 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 5-6 apples (any variety you like)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup water

Preparation

Peel and core the apples and cut into large chunks. Add apples, spices, juice from half a lemon and water to a pot and put on medium heat. Bring to the boil and let simmer for about an hour and quarter on low heat with the lid slightly a jar, or until the apples starts to jam, so keep an eye on it. You can leave it chunky or puree according to personal preference.

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