Over the past few months, I’ve been doing some occasional writing for CASE Magazine. My latest piece went up today, and it’s about a topic that’s on all of my loved ones’ minds this
week month year: Thanksgivukkah.
That’s right, folks. For the first time in well over 100 years, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are coinciding. Over at CASE, I discuss the ways that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah make sense as a mash-up, and then again don’t: how the traditions, history, and cultural significance push and pull at each other in slightly unsettling ways. But this here is a food blog. And everyone knows that the real buzz around Thanksgivukkah is the food. So let’s talk turkey (heh heh).
If there’s any foodstuff that perfectly represents the marriage of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, it’s the sweet potato latke. This is Hanukkah form meets Thanksgiving substance: shredded sweet potato and diced onion, squeezed as dry as possible, bound together with starch and egg, and fried until crackly-golden on the outside. Because sweet potatoes are less starchy than ordinary potatoes, they make for a softer, slightly chewier latke. The flavor is wonderful, with shades of sweetness from the potatoes and onions. I add a healthy dose of fresh sage, deep and musky and slightly bitter, which really takes these from good to soooooo good.
Because of the less-starchy sweet potatoes, these latkes will likely need a bit more binder than the ordinary potato kind, and you have choices for what to use. If you want the familiar crackery flavor of a traditional latke, use matzo meal; if you want plain old binding power, use all-purpose flour; and if you want to keep things gluten-free, use cornstarch. Whatever you use, though, keep in mind that the best latkes are made by feel, not by strict measurement. My mother never uses a recipe to make latkes–she just mixes and adjusts until the mixture holds together enough to fry. The proportions below are a start, but feel free to use more or less egg, and more or less binder, if needed. It’s always a good idea to fry a teeny test latke first–that way you can make sure the mixture hangs together, and taste for salt and pepper and sage. After that, get to frying. There’s a crazy mash-up holiday to celebrate.