Thursday, December 22, 2011

parsnip latkes with horseradish and dill

parsnip latkes with horseradish, dill

I have this affliction or maybe you could call it a fixation with latkes. And I know you’re probably thinking, potato pancakes? With shredded onion? They’re good, but are they really worth obsessing over? But you’d be using the literal definition of latkes and to me, latkes are not so much a singular recipe with a finite ingredient list but an approach to pancakes; an approach that could include anything that can be shredded and fried. And oh, when you start from this vantage point, they most certainly will.

parnsips, potato -- not pretty yet
shredded

I’ve made potato latkes, sure. Many times, even. But then I made mixed vegetable latkes with Indian spices and curry-lime yogurt. I made apple latkes, replete with a caramel sauce made from the juice you wring from the shredded apples. (I waste nothing in the kitchen. My grandmother would be so proud!) This past summer, I made zucchini fritters to solve a dinner crisis. And now, there’s this: Parsnips. Potatoes. Dill. Horseradish. Lemon juice.

ready to wring out

piled in the pan
flipped and crisp

I kind of feel like these are potato latkes that went off to Russia, knocked back vodka in large gulps with some dude named Zamir (in an effort to prove that it wasn’t “a wuss or a reactionary revanchist Trotskyite provocateur”) and then came back with a fresh take on things. Or maybe that’s what I want to being doing right now? Honestly, it’s unclear. I do suspect that these would go as well with cocktails as they would on your Hanukah dinner table. I am also pretty sure they are all my son ate for dinner for two nights. And I can state with authority that if you wish to impress the your mother’s synagogue women’s group by demonstrating a new twist on latkes, these are absolutely the way to go. I should tell you about that some time; it was a hoot. In the meanwhile, Za Vas! And may you enjoy your latkes as well.

parsnip latkes

One year ago: Crescent Jam and Cheese Cookies
Two years ago: How to Host Brunch (and Still Sleep In)
Three years ago: Sausage-Stuffed Potatoes, Seven-Layer Cookies, Grasshopper Brownies, Potato Pancakes, Even Better and Braised Beef Short Ribs
Four years ago: A Slice-and-Bake Cookie Palette, Blue Cheese Iceberg Wedge
Five years ago: Boozy Baked French Toast, Short Ribs Bourguignon, Ganache Tart, Marzipan and Parmesan Black Pepper Biscotti

Potato-Parsnip Latkes with Horseradish and Dill

Yield: About 18 2 1/2 to 3-inch latkes

Pancakes
1/2 pound (about 1 large) Russet potato
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 pound parsnips (about 2 large or 4 medium)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil (or a mix of olive and vegetable or peanut oil) for frying

Sauce
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon freshly grated or prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon chopped dill

Preheat: Oven to 250 degrees. Line one large or two smaller baking sheets with foil and leave them in the oven until needed.

Prepare vegetables: Peel vegetables and grate them on the large holes of a box grater or (my preferred method) using the shredding blade of a food processor. If using the food processor, I like to lay the vegetables sideways in the chute, in an attempt to get the longest strands of vegetables. This creates latkes that look like little piles of mops, which is my goal.

Transfer shredded vegetables to a lint-free dishtowel or square of cheesecloth, and wring out as much liquid as possible. Let stand for two minutes, then wring again. Wetness is the enemy of crisp, light latkes, so we want to get rid of as much as possible.

Make batter: Transfer wrung-out vegetables to a large bowl. Add lemon juice. In a tiny dish, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and any herbs or additional seasonings and toss with vegetables, evenly coating the strands. In the same tiny dish, whisk your egg(s) and then stir this into the vegetable-flour mixture, evenly coating the strands.

Prepare pan: Heat a large, heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Once skillet is hot, add 3 tablespoons oil and heat oil until shimmering. If you’re unsure, you can flick a droplet of water onto the oil; if it hisses and sputters, you’re good to go.

Cook: Using a fork or your fingertips (letting the eggy batter drain off a little is good), gather spoonful-sized mounds of battered vegetables and drop them onto the heated skillet. When golden underneath, 3 to 4 minutes later, flip pancakes. [If you’re using a gas range, you’ll likely have to rotate your pancakes 180 degrees halfway through the cooking time so that they color evenly underneath.] Cook on the other side until nicely bronzed underneath, another 2 to 3 minutes, and transfer to paper towels briefly to drain pancakes, before transferring them again to tray(s) in warm oven. If latkes cook too quickly or slowly on the stove, adjust the heat accordingly.

Add more oil if needed (you want to keep the pan at that 3 tablespoon level), being sure it is heated before adding more pancakes to the skillet. Repeat with remaining batter. I like to keep the latkes in the oven for at least 10 minutes to ensure they’ve cooked through before serving them. This gives you time to…

Make sauce: Mix sauce ingredients in a small dish. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve: Warm with a dollop of the sauce.


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