Stay true to the potato, but change it up with roe topping

Latkes have been a family tradition in our home since our daughters were quite young. Daddy Jeff was known as the latke king, and he insisted that our latkes be true to their potato nature — meaning no eggs or matzah meal allowed.

For this recipe, you must use high-starch russet potatoes or the latkes will not bind. And, of course, they needed to be fried in olive oil. (After all, the Maccabees didn’t use canola, safflower or peanut oil!) It’s a myth that olive oil burns at a temperature too low for frying.

Because we have always enjoyed our latkes with wine, the topping never includes sweet applesauce, which makes dry wine taste bitter. For this reason, we prefer savory toppings, such as sour cream. And now our daughters are old enough to drink the wine with us!

Covenant Kitchen Latkes photo/ed anderson

These latkes are fresh and crisp, and the sour cream and fish eggs add a delightfully creamy, crunchy and salty note.

Change is not easy, especially when it comes to family recipes. And I know everyone reading this probably uses their bubbe’s latke recipe. But this one is worth trying. So from our family to yours, Happy Hanukkah!

In our glass: We enjoy full -bodied white wines such as barrel-fermented chardonnay or viognier. A semi-dry riesling would pair nicely, too, but we still don’t recommend topping your latkes with applesauce.

Covenant Kitchen Latkes

Makes about 20

5 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled (about 8 potatoes)

2 onions, peeled

2 tsp. salt

2 to 3 cups extra-virgin olive oil

8 oz. sour cream

2 oz. masago or salmon roe

10 green onions, white part only, sliced into very thin rounds

Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Grate potatoes with the grating dish of a food processor. Transfer potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Grate onions and add to bowl with potatoes. Add salt. Using your hands, thoroughly mix potatoes, onions and salt. Set aside.

Pour olive oil to a depth of ½ inch in a deep-sided skillet. Heat over medium-high heat until oil begins to shimmer and show small bubbles.

While oil is heating, make the potato pancakes. Using a â…“ cup measuring cup, scoop out enough shredded potato mix to fill the cup. Hold the cup over a separate bowl and press as much liquid as possible out of the potato mix. Tap the contents of the cup into the palm of your hand and shape it into a thick pancake, pressing as much additional liquid from the pancake as possible. Set the latke on a large plate; a second plate might be necessary. Repeat until you have used up all the potato mix. Discard the pressed liquid from the potatoes.

When oil is hot enough, use a spatula to lift the latkes off the plate and gently set them in the boiling olive oil. (If the oil starts to smoke or splatter, lower the heat slightly.) Do not crowd the pancakes. Cook in several batches if necessary. Fry for about 10 minutes per side, or until each side is dark tan or very golden brown. Latkes should be crisp on the outside.

When cooked, remove the latkes from the skillet and set them in a paper towel-lined baking dish in the pre-heated oven until ready to serve.

To serve, top each latke with a dollop of sour cream. Place a small spoonful of masago on top of the sour cream. Sprinkle with green onions. Garnish with pepper to taste.

morgan-jodie-WEB
Jodie Morgan

Jodie Morgan is a co-owner of Covenant Winery in Berkeley and has co-authored eight cookbooks with her husband, Jeff Morgan. Their latest is “The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table.”