Eating potato pancakes carry many childhood memories for me, especially of summers spent with my paternal grandparents in the countryside of Hungary. I can almost clearly remember myself in the garden right outside the kitchen door, eating them as my mother brought them out, one by one, slathered with jelly or applesauce. Popular throughout Eastern Europe, potato pancakes are also known as latkes in Yiddish, and are traditionally eaten during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. They can be enjoyed as a sweet treat or a savory appetizer when served with sour cream. The purists like them plain, but I can eat them every which way. The key with these pancakes is to eat them as soon as they are fried because they are only as good as they are hot and fresh.
In this recipe I use a combination of shredded root vegetables, such as sunchokes from the Union Square Greenmarket, potatoes, and carrots. All provide a variety of flavor and texture. Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes—though they're neither native to Jerusalem nor related to artichokes, are knobby ginger-like tubers with a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. They can be eaten with or without their skin, raw, steamed, or quickly fried or roasted. They are also a healthy form of carbohydrate, containing inulin instead of starch, making them suitable for diabetic diets. They are easy to cook with and work wonderfully when combined with other root vegetables. Every now and then my family likes to have a potato pancake night where we eat only them for dinner. Try this recipe for a pancake night with your family and make some new memories. Happy Hanukkah!
Note: To shred all the vegetables, use the medium-size holes on a box grater.
1 pound sunchokes, peeled and shredded
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and shredded
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
fine sea salt
freshly ground black black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
sour cream, for serving
Toss together sunchokes, potatoes, carrot, and flour in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add eggs; mix well to combine.
Warm oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Use a 1/4-cup measure to scoop sunchoke mixture into pan. Tamp mixture in pan to form pancakes about 2-1/2-inches in diameter. Cook 3 to 5 minutes per side until golden brown. Remove to tray lined with paper towels. Serve immediately with sour cream and a grinding of black pepper. Yield: 12 latkes.