potato latkes
from Mark Strausman, author: The Campagna Table, William Morrow, 1999

Chanukah is a holiday that we started to celebrate at Campagna almost by accident, but now it's a tradition we love. The first year the restaurant was open, all we did was light a menorah. But one of my regular customers saw it and told me it reminded him of when his children were young, even though they were now all grown and spread across the country. Almost as though he knew the answer would be no, he asked: "Do you possibly have potato latkes on the menu?" I was about to shake my head and say no, but then something about his wistful expression set off a voice in my brain. It was the voice of my teachers at school, reminding me of the meaning of hospitality. So instead of no, I said, "Give me fifteen minutes." I went into the kitchen and made them for him by hand. Someone else in the dining room saw them and asked for them, then another, and another. The rest is history, and now Campagna is famous for its latkes.

potato latkes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 6 large Idaho potatoes
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk, beaten together
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon rendered chicken fat (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Peel the potatoes and, working quickly, grate them on the finest hole of a box grater into a stainless steel bowl. With your hands, firmly squeeze all the water out of the potato pulp (youšll want to work over the sink).When as much liquid as possible has been squeezed out of the potatoes, grate the onion into the bowl and mix.

Add the egg mixture, salt, pepper, chicken fat (if using), and flour. Mix together very well.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil until very hot but not smoking. Place heaping Tablespoons of the potato mixture in the pan, flattening them until they are about 1/2 inch thick. Reduce the heat to medium and fry until golden brown on the bottom. Turn and repeat, cooking until well browned and cooked through.

Drain on paper towels, then transfer to a baking sheet and place in the oven. Repeat with the remaining potato mixture. If necessary, add more oil to the pan between batches and heat thoroughly.

[hanukkah dinner home]

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