Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hanukkah latkes from chef Ric Orlando

Latkes with the trimmings.
When a truly top chef decides to share a recipe, pay attention.

Here's one from Ric Orlando, the food guru behind New World Home Cooking Co. in Saugerties, New World Catering in the Hudson Valley and New World Bistro Bar in Albany -- which pretty much covers the whole spectrum of the New World. He shared it during a holiday cooking class at the Regional Food Bank in Latham on Friday.

The quintessential Jewish fast-food is particulary popular during the Hanukkah season and, like so many dishes of its ilk, has a variety of "official" versions. Given Orlando's track record, I'd go with his. Here it is, in the chef's own words:

Hanukkah Latkes
(Makes about 10)

In this recipe we will learn a classical French cooking technique that will keep your latkes light and crisp. Yes, I have been honored in the past to be the the Woodstock Jewish Congregation’s "Official Latke Maker for Hanukkah," and they are a discerning group to say the least!

Remember, to keep them from being greasy, shred the potatoes two ways and go easy on the squishing.

2 large peeled Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes
1 small onion
1 tablespoon horseradish
¼ cup potato starch, flour or corn starch
2 free range eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cup duck fat, schmaltz or neutral-flavored vegetable oil

To prepare the potatoes and onion: Use mandoline and julienne the potatoes about halfway down and then finish the potatoes on the large side of box grater. This will give you two textures. The grated with get creamy, while the julienne will give you your crisp.

Put in a mixing bowl. Now peel and grate the carrot on the box grater, or grind until smooth in a food processor.

Now season a bit. Sprinkle with salt. Toss, Sprinkle a little more. Taste. Salty enough?
Don’t add too much. Well season again later. This step helps to bring the water out of the potatoes, but contrary to many Jewish home recipes, we WANT the water. You will see why next step.

Now add the horseradish. Scramble the eggs and pour over the potatoes. Hit it with a few generous grinds of the pepper mill, as you like it. Mix it all together very well.

Now we are going to add the starch. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup on the mix and toss it together. The accumulated water will begin to get white. You goal is to get the water to look and feel like heavy cream. Depending upon the potatoes you use, there will be more of less water. If you need to add a little more starch, do it.

So now you have a bowl of shredded potato mix sitting in a pool of creamy, starchy slurry. Very good!

Heat a heavy pan one-quarter deep of fat or oil. Now we will make a taster. Pick up a golf ball-size handful of the mix; don’t squeeze it dry. Carefully drop it in the hot oil and allow to cook on one side -- looking like a little haystack -- until you notice that the edges are getting a bit brown. When this happens, gently turn it over. Press gently, making it about 1/3-inch thick.

When it is sufficiently brown, remove it and taste it. If necessary, you may adjust the salt.
Cook off the remaining latkes in batches, making sure you don’t crowd the pan and keeping the oil temperature steady and hot enough. You can put the cooked latkes on a cookie sheet and reheat to order.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Garnish the latkes with apple sauce and/or sour cream or serve those as side items for people to use at their discretion.

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