This was the first year I fully celebrated Hanukkah. It was a joy in every way. Although I was prettttyyy Latke-ed out by the end. What? How could that ever happen? Or, so I thought before those eight crazy nights. But it can, and it did. So much fried food, so many variations. Well, it’s over a month later, and the urge to fry is back! This round may be less miraculous, but no less delicious.
This leads us to a very special friend to New Jew Kitchen, Michael W. Twitty.
Michael is a personal hero of mine: a fellow Jewish convert (!!!), writer, culinary historian, and educator. I was introduced to him through his excellent book The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, which brilliantly interweaves history, cultural studies, oral history and anthropology to bridge the culinary links between Africa and the American South. It is wonderful. Others agreed, prizes included the 2018 James Teared Book of the Year Award, and a finalist for The Kirkus Prize in nonfiction, the Art of Eating Prize, and a Barnes and Noble New Discoveries finalist in nonfiction.
Generous, brilliant, and very kind: Michael W. Twitty. When I contacted him to ask if he could help a new Jew out, he answered quickly and decisively: the recipe we should all have is Southern Latkes. To say that I was thrilled when Michael DM’d me back with his fave Jewish recipe of all time would be an understatement. I teared up.
We’ve had the month off, people. Regroup and get that oil hot!
Michael Twitty’s Southern Latkes
- 2 cups peeled and shredded Yukon gold or Russet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon grated onion
- 1 tablespoon of chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons of green onion
- 1 small minced garlic clove
- 1 pinch of thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper –powder or flakes
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, matzoh meal or potato starch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup peanut oil for frying–canola or vegetable oil if you have allergies…
- Wring the potato shreddings in a cheesecloth, and repeat several times to extract as much moisture as you can. Then, in a medium bowl stir the ingredients together.
- In a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot. Most recipes call for between 350-375 degrees. Place a heaping tablespoon and a half of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick patties. Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other. Let drain on paper towels. Serve hot with an extra dusting of hot pepper and a few slices of green onion.
- These latkes can also be served with a dip like applesauce, sour cream, or sweet chili sauce.