These potato latkes are so good that posting the recipe alone is a mitzvah of the highest order. The Festival of Lights refers to a lamp in the temple that was supposed to have only enough oil to last the Maccabees one night, but instead lasted for eight. The holiday celebrates the miracle of the oil, so fried foods are often featured at Hanukkah feasts. Problem is, most potato pancakes, or latkes, are awful. Luckily for you, these are amazing.
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 pounds baking potatoes
1 large onion, finely diced
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup matzah meal
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
Applesauce, crème fraîche, smoked salmon, salmon roe, and dill sprigs, to serve
In a medium saucepan, cover the Yukon Gold potatoes with cool water, season generously with salt, and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well and immediately pass the potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl.
Working quickly, peel and grate the baking potatoes on the large holes of a box grater into a medium bowl. Press with a clean kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. Add half of the grated potatoes to the riced potatoes.
Transfer the remaining grated potatoes to the bowl of a food processor. Add the onion and pulse until the potatoes and onions are very finely chopped. Transfer to a fine-mesh sieve and press with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Add the potato-onion mixture to the large bowl. Stir in the eggs, matzah meal, white pepper, and 2 tsp of salt.
In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1/4 inch of oil until shimmering. Working in 3 batches, spoon 1/4 cup of the potato mixture into the oil for each latke; press slightly to flatten. Fry over moderate heat, turning once, until the latkes are golden and crisp on both sides, about 7 minutes. Drain the latkes on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Serve with applesauce, crème fraîche, smoked salmon, salmon roe, and dill.
Note: The fried latkes can be kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Reheat them on a baking sheet in a 375 degrees F oven for about 5 minutes, or until warmed through and crisp.