Sunday, January 2, 2011

Latkes...they're a good thing.

It's true.  I'm not Jewish, but I'm often jealous of the traditional Jewish foods.  I could live on Brisket and Latkes, matzoball soup and the like.  Fortunately for me, latkes squeezed themeselves into our family's New Years Day traditions, so I got to make them yesterday!

You see, my very German-Pittsburgh-raised-Steeler-loving-waste-not-want-not Father, aka Mr. Grumpy, aka Sandman, grew up eating pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and applesauce on New Year's Day.  Somewhere along the road "potato pancakes" were added to the mix.  I think the potato pancakes he remembers were fried mashed potatoes, but he disagrees.  (But between you and me, we know I'm always right....right??!?!!)

Fast forward to MY childhood and my mother (who grew up in the heavily Jewish area outside of Washington, DC) had changed potato pancakes to latkes.

And my lifetime obsession with latkes was born.

I love them as just potatoes with onions and flour and egg, but in recent years I've really enjoyed jacking with them a bit and seeing what fun flavors I could add.  So, when Cooking Light Magazine featured multiple versions of latkes in their Dec. 2010 issue...I knew what I'd be cooking yesterday!

Cilantro-Jalapeno Latkes with Chipotle Sour Cream might be the most Tex-Mex this Jewish food will ever get!  They were tasty and flavorful, but not spicy as I anticipated.  My father said I could make them for him again (that's like a 5 thumbs up from Mr. Grumpy) and my mother's still using the chipotle sour cream this morning on leftover fried catfish.  I take that as a WIN!

(For those who are unaware, I am temporarily cooking at my parents house as my floors in my house are finally being refinished and it's taking twice as long as was planned - hence the different kitchen in the photos!)

I started by making the sauce.  It's simple - some sour cream, combined with grated lime rind, lime juice and chopped chipotle peppers.

Buy the smallest can of chipotles in adobo that you can.  I can get a 7oz can, but nothing smaller.  So you can chop the whole can if you like then freeze what you don't use in an ice cube tray.  Once frozen, transfer the chipotle cubes to a freezer bag and you've chipotles to last you the whole year, just about!!!

Once the sauce was mixed, I refrigerated until it until the latkes were cooked.  Next time, I think I'll just let the sour cream sauce sit at room temp because I'm picky and didn't care for the very cold sour cream on my very hot fried latkes.  So, consider your pickiness when making that decision.

Now, if we were at my house, I'd have grated the potatoes with the help of my food processor, but instead I grated by hand!

Of course, just when I am finishing the potatoes, my mother reminds me of the mini food processor she has and she proceeds to grate the onions that way.  She didn't get the great arm workout that I did!

Once the potatoes and onions are grated, you mix them in a colander and let them drain for about 30 minutes.  Keep in mind that grated potatoes are going to brown a touch - don't let the color frighten you. It'll all be okay in the end, I promise!

After they're good and drained, you'll add to the potato mixture flour, an egg, some salt, cumin, chopped jalapeno and chopped cilantro.  Here's where "to taste" comes into play.  Next time I make these, I will add more cilantro and twice the jalapeno. I wanted a bit more heat in mine!

Mix all the ingredients then heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.  You'll add 1/4 cup of potato mixture to the hot oil, flattening the tater mound with your spatula as you go.  I was able to easily fit 4 latkes at a time in this particular pan.  Cook them for about 3 minutes per side.  I also turned the oven on to warm just to keep the done latkes hot while I finished them all.

The finished product was terrific.  These are a keeper and definite repeater!  And who knew that fried potatoes could be light????

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope your 2011 is full of good food, good friends and good laughs!

Cilantro-Jalapeño Latkes with Chipotle Sour Cream

Cooking Light
 David Bonom, Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2010

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 2 latkes and about 1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream mixture)


  • 6  tablespoons  light sour cream
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
  • 3/4  teaspoon  grated lime rind
  • 1  teaspoon  fresh lime juice
  • 6  cups  shredded peeled baking potato (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1  cup  grated fresh onion
  • 6  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2  tablespoons  finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
  • 1  large egg
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  cup  olive oil, divided


1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
2. Combine potato and onion in a colander. Drain 30 minutes, pressing occasionally with the back of a spoon until barely moist. Combine potato mixture, flour, and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; toss well.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Spoon 1/4 cup potato mixture loosely into a dry measuring cup. Pour mixture into pan; flatten slightly. Repeat the procedure 5 times to form 6 latkes. Sauté 3 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Remove latkes from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and potato mixture to yield 12 latkes total. Serve with sour cream mixture.

Nutritional Information

11g (sat 2.2g,mono 6.9g,poly 1.2g)


sj said...

WOW! Those look delicious... and now I'm starving.

inotu said...

Hmm, look yummy. Ever try them with sweet potatoes?

Dangrdafne said...

I was going to make Latkes for my Mom for Christmas Eve dinner but ran out of time. I am determined to make them for her soon!! Even though I don't like spicy, your Tex Mex Jewish take sounds really really good.

Happy new Year to you, Weeone and your family :)

AGirlintheSouth said...

LKW - They WERE delicious!!!

inotu - I've never made sweet potato latkes but there are many recipes out there. Some are made with a mix of gold yukon potatoes and sweet potatoes and are savory like a traditional latke, others are reminiscent of sweet potato casseroles some people have at Thanksgiving and are all sweet potato mixed with cinnamon and brown sugar. I would try the more savory of the two...and perhaps I will sometime soon! Thanks for the idea!!!

AGirlintheSouth said...

Dangrdafne - These really weren't spicy at all, just flavorful. Thanks for the well wishes -

TexasKatherine said...

Thanks a lot. Now I'm really hungry. Come make these for me? *bats eyes*

AGirlintheSouth said...

TK - Move your happy ass to Htown and you'd get good food as often as you would like. ;D In exchange for favors to be named at a later date, of course!