Simple, crispy, yummy: our Four Seasons Santa Fe chef’s recipe for Chanukah potato latkes

Simple, crispy, yummy: our Four Seasons Santa Fe chef’s recipe for Chanukah potato latkes

By on December 6th, 2012

Oh Chanukah, oh Chanukah
Come light the menorah
Let’s have a party
We’ll all dance the hora.
Gather round the table
We’ll give you a treat,
Dreidels to play with
And latkes to eat.

Do you know why we celebrate the eight-day Jewish festival of Chanukah (Dec. 8 to 16 this year) by eating potato latkes? For Jewish villagers living in Russia or Poland, pickings were slim in winter, so they turned to potatoes stored in the root cellar. Millions of Jewish mothers fed their hungry children with just a few potatoes and very little fuel. The small potato patty fried in oil (latke) symbolizes a long-ago victory when Jerusalem was liberated and warriors, called Maccabees, set a golden menorah alight with olive oil. There was only enough oil to last one day; but miraculously, it burned for eight days.

Over the centuries, those who wanted to observe the tradition developed recipes using ingredients available in the countries in which they lived. Because there weren’t any olives to press in Eastern Europe (or the east coast of North America, for that matter), cooks used schmaltz—fat rendered from a chicken, duck or goose. I still remember going to my grandmother’s apartment in Brooklyn, New York and seeing that coffee tin filled with schmaltz!

There is no right way to make a latke. Some like their latkes made with coarsely grated potatoes; others with finely grated ones, or even puréed. For binding, some prefer flour and others, Matzo Meal. Purists like their latkes to be all potatoes, often with a pinch of onion, while the more daring might add grated carrots or other vegetables, such as Jerusalem artichokes.

Classic Potato Latkes

My grandmother shared this recipe with me. These simple, delicious latkes are not loaded with potato starch, flour, baking powder or other non-essential ingredients.
• 4 medium Idaho potatoes
• 6 TB canola oil, olive oil or schmaltz
• 3 eggs, beaten
• 2 TB Matzoh Meal
• 2 tsp kosher salt
• 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
• Applesauce or sour cream to garnish (optional)

Potato Latke - Four Seasons Santa Fe

To prepare:
1. Fill a large bowl with cold water.

2. Peel potatoes, and as you finish each, place in the cold water to prevent browning.

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

4. Using a box grater, carefully grate the potatoes using the large- or small-holed grater (whatever you prefer). Or, cut the potatoes lengthwise into halves or quarters so they fit into food processor feed tube. Process the potatoes using the blade that creates thin, shoestring-like strips and then transfer to a large bowl.

5. Squeeze the potatoes with a paper towel or clean dishtowel to remove any excess water.

Potato Latke Four Seasons Santa Fe

6. Add the eggs, Matzo Meal, salt and pepper, and mix well.

Potato Latke Four Seasons Santa Fe

7. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Drop six to eight spoonfuls of mixture into the hot oil. Using the back of a spoon, pat down each latke to flatten it. Put as many as you can in the skillet without crowding. (Putting them too close together will make them soggy.)

8. Fry three to four minutes on each side, until golden and crisp around the edges; repeat the procedure until finished with all the batter.

Potato Latke Four Seasons Santa Fe

9. Blot any excess oil with paper towels.

10. Serve the latkes warm, topped with applesauce or sour cream, if desired.

Potato Latke Four Seasons Resort Santa Fe

Read more about the American Southwest’s Santa Fe, New Mexico in Four Seasons Magazine

Read our “Top 10 Things to Do with Teens” in Santa Fe in Four Seasons Magazine.

Four Seasons Resort Santa Fe 

Post Author
Andrew Cooper

As executive chef at New Mexico’s Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe, Andrew Cooper is passionate about bringing the kitchen to the dining room so guests can experience the beauty of fresh, seasonal ingredients. A graduate of the esteemed Culinary Institute of America, Chef Andrew has also worked at Four Seasons properties in Hawaii, Los Angeles’ Westlake Village, California and New York. His pastimes include bike riding, visiting galleries and museums, and spending time with his wife Ruby and two young sons.

View all posts from Andrew
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4 Response(s) to "Simple, crispy, yummy: our Four Seasons Santa Fe chef’s recipe for Chanukah potato latkes"
Geoffrey Posner says:
December 11, 2012 at 9:09 am

Enjoyed reading your article. I am your Dad’s cousin who presently lives in Atlanta. We grew up together in Brooklyn. Your Grandmother, Pauline was my aunt. She was a wonderful lady & a lot of fun to be with.
I am very happy for your successful career as a Chef with the Four Seasons in Santa Fe. Hope to visit soon. All the Best to you & your family.

Andrea Kaiser says:
December 9, 2012 at 7:54 pm

What a great article and fabulous recipe!! Thank you for sharing!

Sandeep Motwani says:
December 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Coooop!–Long time no speak. I’m going to try this recipe. It better be good.

Suzanne Bermant says:
December 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm

We heard all about you from your parents with whom we had travelled to Israel in 2009.

Suzanne and Bob Bermant

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