The best Hanukkah recipes are decadent. It’s a holiday all about celebrating the miracle of oil, after all.
Hanukkah is all about surviving against the odds, and what better way to celebrate that than to feast on latkes with sour cream and applesauce, rich chopped liver, your grandmother’s famous brisket, and fluffy, sweet, jelly-filled donuts?
What is Hanukkah all about anyway?
Hanukkah is also called The festival of Lights. It’s when Jews celebrate the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees triumphed over a tyrant king who forced them to worship Greek gods.
The Maccabees, a small but mighty rebel army, came along to defeat the king and regain religious freedom for the Jews.
When the Jews returned to the temple to rebuild it, there was only enough lamp oil to burn for one day. But by a miracle, that oil burned for 8 days, until they could replenish their oil supply.
That’s why we celebrate Hanukkah by lighting candles for 8 nights. Because the oil was the star of the miracle, we also celebrate it by eating foods fried in oil.
What are traditional Hanukkah foods?
Remember, we’re celebrating the heck out of that oil, so a Hanukkah meal doesn’t shy away from including all the fried foods.
The most common Hanukkah recipes are latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (Israeli jelly donuts).
But you can’t make a meal of just potato pancakes and donuts (okay, well, of course you CAN, but should you?). So most Hanukkah menus also include things like brisket, salad, challah, roasted vegetables, and other not-fried foods.
Brisket makes an ideal main dish for your Hanukkah feast. This on is braised in a mixture of red wine, beef broth, dried fruit, and North African spices for a Mediterranean take on the traditional Jewish holiday dish.
Pan-seared Brussels sprouts become deeply caramelized when they are seared in a cast-iron pan. These are tossed in a sweet-savory soy glaze and get a kick of spice from slices of fresh red serrano chiles.
Honey Cake is the sweet treat many Jews eat on Rosh Hashanah, AKA Jewish New Year, as a symbol of hope for a sweet year to come. But it's also the perfect ending to a festive Hanukkah feast. This one is deliciously moist with an alluringly crisp edge.
You can make a gluten-free version by substituting gluten-free brown rice flour for the flour. You can also jazz up the recipe by adding thinly sliced scallions or substituting sweet potatoes, parsnips, or apples for some (or all) of the potatoes. This recipe serves about 4 people and is easily doubled or tripled.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Additional Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour
2 pounds large thin-skinned potatoes or peeled russet potatoes
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper
vegetable oil, for frying
Applesauce or sour cream, for serving
Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and just cover with cold water. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, cook for 6 to 7 minutes (less if the potatoes are small) until the potatoes are just barely tender but not soft.
Drain the potatoes, cover with cold water. Drain again, cover with cold water again and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let them sit in a colander until ready to proceed with the recipe (the longer the better).
Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the potatoes (you can leave the skins on, discarding any pieces that come off in large sheets). Grate the onion on the same holes.
In a large bowl, combine the grated potatoes and onion with the eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper.
Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Form the potato mixture into patties about ¾ inch thick and 3 inches across and arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheet (use additional baking sheets if necessary). Chill the patties for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to cook, as long as 24 hours. If chilling for more than 30 minutes, cover with plastic wrap.
Heat about 2 inches of oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. When the oil is very hot, add several of the patties, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until browned on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes, flip and then cook until browned on the second side, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Transfer the cooked patties to a paper towel-lined platter and serve immediately. If you’re cooking a large amount, place the cooked patties on a baking sheet and keep them warm in a 250ºF oven.
Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.
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