Meat, potatoes and oniony goodness in one thin helping: Is this another miracle for Hanukkah? Not exactly. Israeli-born Washington caterer Vered Guttman says these latkes are a Sephardi dish that's popular among Jews in the Balkans. They are made year-round and served on Rosh Hashanah and even Passover (made with matzoh meal instead of bread crumbs).
Leeks are the main ingredient, which makes these latkes special. But because they are fried (oil is significant at Hanukkah), Guttman suggested trying them for the Jewish holiday that begins at sundown Friday.
The quick raw beet salad is Guttman's creation: "It's nice to have something fresh next to any latkes, a contrast to the fat," she says. We agree.
Ground sumac lends a nutty tartness to the salad. It is available at Middle Eastern markets; the salad is good without it, too.
Servings: 4 - 5
- 6 medium leeks
- 1 medium potato (about 6 ounces)
- 2 beets
- 1/2 medium red onion
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground sumac (optional; see headnote)
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Leaves from 4 stems flat-leaf parsley
- 2 large eggs
- 8 ounces lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat.
Meanwhile, trim the root ends of the leeks, then discard the tough green leaves and outer layers. Cut the remaining white and light-green sections crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Place in a large container of cool tap water to dislodge any grit. Peel the potato and cut it into 1-inch pieces.
Add the leek and potato pieces to the saucepan. After the water returns to a boil, cover the saucepan and cook the vegetables for 10 minutes, until just tender.
While the vegetables are cooking, peel the beets, then grate them against the large-holed side of a box grater; it's best to do this in a stain-proof bowl. Cut the half-onion in half, then into very thin slices; add to the bowl. Cut the lemon in half, reserving half for serving. Squeeze the half-lemon over the beet-onion mixture (2 tablespoons), then add the kosher salt and sumac, tossing to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Drain the vegetables in a colander, then run cool tap water on them so they can cool down enough for you to squeeze out as much water as possible.
Working in 2 batches, transfer the vegetables to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Heat 2 large skillets over medium-high heat. Add just enough oil to coat the bottom of each skillet. Finely chop the parsley and add to the bowl, along with the eggs, ground beef, bread crumbs, sea salt and black pepper; mix well.
When the oil is quite hot, drop about five large spoonfuls into each of the skillets, using the back of the spoon or a spatula to flatten them slightly. Cook for a few minutes, until browned on the edges, then turn them over and cook for a few minutes, watching them closely, just until the meat is cooked through. Transfer carefully to the lined baking sheet to drain slightly. Repeat to use all of the leek-beef mixture, adding oil to the skillets as needed.
Cut the reserved lemon half into wedges. Serve the latkes warm or at room temperature, squeezing the juice from the lemon wedges over them. Spoon a little of the beet salad on top of or alongside the latkes.
From Vered Guttman of Cardamom and Mint Catering.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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