Hanukkah

8 Wacky Ways to Top a Latke (Don't Tell Bubbe)

December 19, 2016

Even for the fiercest fried potato enthusiast, eight days of latkes can be a whole lotta latke. (Speaking from experience, here.)

One way to switch it up is, of course, to alter the essential being of the latkes themselves: You could strengthen the standard grated potato with persimmon or sweet potato, onion, and parsnip. Or you could dredge them in panko breadcrumbs or forgo the potatoes for beets and carrots. (Are these still latkes? You be the judge.)

But it's much easier to dress your latkes in new clothes rather than alter their essential personality. (Note to myself: Remember this for New Year's resolution season.)

Clockwise from top: latke as falafel, as pancake, as latke, as toast, as brioche & as baked potato. Photo by James Ransom

Since potatoes are so versatile (I can't say I haven't referred to them as "the blank canvas of tubers" more than once), there are few spreads and sprouts latkes won't play nicely with—though their deviation from"the classic" might make your bubbe scratch her head. Fry a big batch of your favorite latkes (or whatever kind you end up with) at the beginning of the week, then switch out the toppings every night of Hanukkah.

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You'll avoid latke fatigue and will only have to rid your home of that frying smell once (unless you decide to make sufganiyot, too).

Inspired by the latke toppings at Mile End Deli (green goddess sour cream, tobiko caviar sour cream, whipped tofu, spicy za'atar hummus, chopped liver, etc. etc. etc.), we came up with 8 more ways change up your latke treatment.

Think of your latkes as...

Baked potatoes:

  • Pickled onions
  • Chopped chives or scallions
  • Black beans
  • Sour cream or grated cheddar

$10 toast:

  • Mashed avocado
  • Herbs of your choosing
  • A squirt of Sriracha (in true "cool food" fashion) or lemon juice
  • A sprinkling of savory granola

Falafel:

  • Hummus
  • Schug (a Yemeni hot sauce)
  • Slaw and/or pickled vegetables

Brioche:

  • Pumpkin or apple butter
  • Pumpkin or sunflower seeds, chopped nuts, granola, or crushed brittle

Pancakes:

If you're going this route, you might as well hark back to the original latke: potato-free, enriched with cream cheese and ricotta, and strongly resembling the inside of a blintz.

  • Pat of butter
  • Maple syrup (or a plop of jam or compote)
  • Cinnamon-sugar

French fries:

  • Ketchup (make it yourself the easy way)
  • Vinegar
  • Mustard? (Why not!)

Salad:

Latkes (well, duh!):

Okay, not so wacky, but paying homage to the classic is also important.

  • Applesauce (maybe even roasted applesauce)
  • Pear sauce
  • Thanksgivukkah will not happen again in your lifetime—but that shouldn't stop us from putting cranberry sauce on latkes
  • Sour cream, crème fraîche, yogurt, labneh, another creamy dairy product

If you're wondering how to make all those latkes ahead of time, skip refrigeration, which is a one-way ticket to Mushville, U.S.A. Instead, take a tip from Kim Severson, who freezes her latkes in a single layer on baking sheets before transferring them to resealable plastic bag; when she's ready to serve them, she reheats in a 425° F for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping once, until deeply golden-brown.

Do you stick with the classic latke accoutrements, or are you trying something new this year? Tell us in the comments below.

2 Comments

scott.finkelstein.5 December 19, 2016
I've used mine as the base of eggs benedict (with lox replacing the ham). There was heartburn.
 
amysarah December 19, 2016
If I'm serving latkes with, e.g., pot roast, I keep it simple - the sauce from the brisket, plus applesauce and sour cream (homemade apple sauce, sometimes with pear too) is all they need. But if the latkes are served as the main attraction, I'll serve them with smoked salmon or gravlax, and/or smoked trout as well. Pretty classic - a good latke needs no fussy tricks.