The key to creating your own successful spin on the classic Hanukkah latke is incorporating a tried-and-true accompaniment to fried potatoes, like eggs, smoked salmon or in this case, a rich combination of seasonal mushrooms and apples. This was one of over a dozen stellar offerings at BAM’s Latke Festival. Norma’s at Midtown West’s Le Parker Meridien served their “magic mushroom” potato pancakes at the festival to great success — watching their chefs speed-fry latkes to keep up with the hungry crowd was hypnotizing.
For the mushroom latkes
- 12 large potatoes, grated
- 3 medium onions, grated
- 1 pound oyster mushrooms, sliced
- 2 teaspoons porcini powder
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 5 tablespoons Wondra flour
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- oil for deep frying
- 6 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes
For the porcini mushroom sauce
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 7 cups heavy cream
- 12 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 1/2 teaspoons white truffle oil
- freshly ground black pepper
For the cranberry apple sauce
- 4 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 1/2 cups whole cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons clarified butter
- 1 cup apple juice
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 large strips lemon zest, peeled with a vegetable peeler
- 8 tablespoons sour cream
For the mushroom latkes:
- Slice the oyster mushrooms into very fine strips, coat with Wondra flour and fry.
- Put the grated potatoes in a clean tea towel and squeeze the liquid out of the mixture. Do the same for the grated onions. Combine all the ingredients (including the fried mushrooms) and mix together well by hand.
- In a heavy skillet, put a 3/4" deep layer of olive oil and duck fat (just add more oil if you don’t use the duck fat) and heat until sizzling.
- Form individual pancakes by hand and carefully slide into the pan using a slotted spatula. Fill the pan, but leave room between the pancakes.
- When the latkes are nicely browned on one side, turn carefully and cook until browned on the other side and crisp on the edges.
- Remove with a spatula and place on paper towels.
For the porcini sauce:
- After soaking the mushrooms, drain them, squeezing to remove all the water.
- In a saucepan, melt the butter and sauté the mushrooms, add the cream and bring to a boil; add the cheese, simmer until reduced by about ½.
- Stir in truffle oil, season with salt and pepper and keep warm until ready to use.
For the cranberry apple sauce:
- Heat the clarified butter in a heavy saucepan, add the apples, cranberries, sugar, apple juice, cinnamon sticks and lemon zest over moderate heat, stirring, for 15 minutes, or until the apples are very soft.
- Discard the cinnamon stick and the zest. Serve the applesauce warm or chilled.
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