I’m back home (Grandma is doing very well, and has a pantry stocked with homemade granola, chicken soup and beef chili that should last until I get up there again) and working through a backlog of interwebs reading, when I stumbled upon this Hanukkah gem by Bubala Please: making latkes. I’ll warn you now: about every third word is a swear, so this is not safe for work (unless you have earphones) and there is liberal use of the term that begins with “mother” and ends with “…ucker.” Watch at your own risk! But it is hilarious: I watched it about a dozen times yesterday and could not stop laughing. So, it’s probably not a surprise, that while I was staring into the still-rather-empty refrigerator last night and wondering what I was going to make for dinner, I thought: “How about latkes?”
No one would confuse these with traditional Jewish latkes: there is about as much kale as there is potato (because even I balk at eating only fried potato for dinner), there are shallots and garlic in additional to the typical onion, and there is curry and cayenne and coconut oil because I’m contrary like that. I’ve been obsessed with curry of late: I made curry-roasted cauliflower before Thanksgiving and dry-brined a chicken with curry after it. I’ve tossed curry into soups & stews and had it on scrambled eggs. So it was no big surprise that when I started tossing ingredients into a skillet for Impromptu Latke Party, I automatically reached for the curry.
Let me warn you now: when you fry with curry, the house will smell like curry for days. But oh, these are so good: impossibly light and crisp, thoroughly curried and nicely spiced, six of them disappeared in the blink of an eye, and I tucked the rest of the batter into the fridge lest I cook up the entire batch for just the two of us. Nontraditional though they may be, I can think of worse ways to celebrate the miracle of the oil. While some of my Jewish friends might call shenanigans, I bet my homies Jaquann & Luis would agree. Happy Hanukkah, yo!
- 3 medium floury potatoes, like Russet (about 1 and 1/2 lbs), grated (I leave the peel on; feel free to peel if you prefer)
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- 3 tbsp coconut oil (or other vegetable oil)
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 small shallots, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small bunch kale, finely chopped (I used frozen kale, thawed and excess water squeezed out)
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp fresh oregano leaves
- oil for frying (I used safflower + a little coconut oil for flavor)
- Arrange the grated potatoes in shallow layers in a large colander, sprinkling salt in between layers, and pressing down so that salt touches all of the potato. Let colander sit in the sink, draining potato water, while you prep the other ingredients.
- In a large, deep skillet, heat coconut oil until fragrant. Add onion, shallot and garlic; stir and sauté until slightly softened, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add chopped kale, stir, and add more coconut oil if necessary to lightly coat the kale. Sauté for an additional 5 – 8 minutes, or until kale has wilted and is bright green. Add curry & cayenne pepper: stir well and fry for 1 minute. Transfer kale mixture to a large bowl.
- Press one more time on the grated potato to eliminate excess water. Transfer potato to a clean kitchen towel and twist in the towel, removing as much excess water as you can. Add the potato, eggs and oregano to the kale. Mix well, taking care to beat the eggs, until the mixture is uniform.
- Wipe out the skillet. Add oil to 1/2-inch depth and bring to 350 – 375 degrees F over medium heat. Using two soup spoons, form a ball of latke batter, about 2 – 3 tablespoons, and add to hot oil, flattening so that the oil comes up at least halfway on the sides of the latke. Fill the skillet with latkes without crowding the pan (my 13-inch skillet held three or four latkes at a time). Fry until the underside is crisp and a deep brown, about 1 – 2 minutes. Carefully flip the latkes (I use a small skimmer and a spoon to flip without splashing hot oil), and cook for another minute or two on the other side. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve hot with spicy tomato chutney.
Serves 4 – 6.
- Make sure to finely chop the kale, or you’ll have long, stringy bits of fried kale drifting off the edges of your latkes. Not un-tasty, but they make it a bit difficult to flip. Other leafy greens would work equally well; just make sure to sweat them a bit so they are not too wet.
- Getting as much water out of the potatoes as possible results in a light, crispy latke; leaving too much water in results in a heavy, leaden mass that takes a long time to cook, absorbs too much oil, spits a lot while in the oil and is generally crisp on the outside but soggy within. That’s not what you’re looking for, no?
- For the non-vegetarians in the house, I imagine that frying these in lard or duck fat (or schmaltz!) would be glorious.
- For those who love the curry-coconut combination, but don’t have coconut oil on hand, try adding a tablespoon or two of grated, unsweetened coconut to the batter.
- You can see that I like my latkes well-fried, some might even say “burnt.” I think the crispier the better, but feel free to reduce the frying time if you want more of a golden brown latke.
Best eaten fresh. I stored half of the batter overnight, refrigerated, and fried up the rest the next day: it made for just slightly less crisp latkes, but the batter held together a bit better so they could be thicker in the middle.