Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the oil, when the Hebrews were saved because their one-day supply of oil lasted for eight full days. The lighting of the menorah, of course, is a re-creation of that miracle, but Hanukkah foods echo it as well by being rich in oil. (This is not a holiday to watch your cholesterol!) Frying these little potato cakes in oil and schmaltz (chicken fat) gives them a crunchy goodness that no oven-crisp recipe can hope to match. This basic recipe appears in What Grows in Your Garden.
• Grate 2-3 pounds russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, using large holes of a box grater. Place in bowl and cover with cold water.• Grate one large onion using small holes. Drain potatoes in colander; then add shredded onion. Wrap tightly in cheesecloth and squeeze dry. Place in dry bowl and toss to distribute onion.• Stir in 1 cup matzo meal, flour, or breadcrumbs; two large eggs, well-beaten; and salt and pepper to taste, mixing well’• Heat 1⁄4 inch of oil in cast iron skillet. Add small amount of schmaltz (chicken fat) for a more authentic taste. Hold temperature to 365 degrees.• Shape 1⁄4 cup or less of potato mixture and pat into tight disk. Fry 2 or 3 minutes per side and drain on wire rack over paper towels.• Serve with applesauce or sour cream.
Note: You can make your own schmaltz by chopping up the skin and visible fat from a package of chicken thighs, but rendering the oil takes a delicate touch. You might have better luck checking with a local kosher butcher shop.