Celeriac-Potato Latkes

Yesterday was an incredibly busy evening. We walked home from work, and went right back out with the dog for the better part of an hour. While Jeremy took the pup inside for her chow, I stayed out and did some gardening for about an hour, weeding the herb garden and planting a few of my weekend purchases: chocolate mint, rosemary, variegated marjoram, and tricolor sage. I have plans for some more herbs, and maybe a little annual/lettuce bed, but that’s down the road a few weeks, I think.

Anyway, around 7:30, Jeremy came out begging for dinner, so I packed up the gardening supplies and came inside to clean up and get food going. I decided to make chicken-apple sausages and potato-celeriac latkes. I used the Cuisinart to grate the potato, celeriac and onion in short order, and my ricer to squeeze all the extra moisture from them, which worked great—ideally, really, except that my arms were tired from gardening, so the squeezing was a lot of work. I used my largest serving spoon to scoop and shape the latkes and drop them in the hot oil, and did 3 at a time. Once most of the latkes were fried up and warming in the oven, I grilled up the sausages (which were precooked), and dinner was good to go. Jeremy liked it, I liked it, and the potato cakes went well with the flavor of the sausages. Jeremy gave Freyja a piece of sausage after we finished eating, and she liked it too. 🙂

The latke recipe I used is adapted from one at Epicurious. Even reducing amounts somewhat, we still ended up with a ton of extra latkes; it’s a good thing they reheat well in the oven. I was loose with the amounts, and mostly played it by feel, literally, by mixing it together with just my hands. Unpeeled red potatoes seem to work fine; I also used a few small miscellaneous potatoes (yellow and fingerlings, I think). I’ve never eaten celeriac before, and the flavor was subtle, but I think I could taste it. I’ve got another one, and am thinking of butter-braising it, so I can taste it all by itself. Or a soup would be good…or maybe I should just mash some in with potatoes… hmm…

Celeriac-Potato Latkes

1/2 of a large celeriac, or about 3/4 lb total, peeled with a knife
About 6 large red potatoes
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 lb sweet onion, quartered
1/2 C all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp kosher salt
A few grinds of black pepper
About 1 1/2 cups canola oil

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 250°F. Coarsely grate celery root, potatoes, and onions with the grating blade of your food processor (or box grater). Pour lemon juice over all and toss to coat. Strain using a potato ricer (perfect if you have one with a very small screen) or a kitchen towel, to remove as much liquid as you possibly can.

Return grated roots to a clean, dry bowl and mix in salt, pepper, flour (enough to coat everything lightly), and eggs (start with 3, mix them in, and work up from there if necessary until you have an evenly coated mixture that will hold together when pressed). It is easiest to gauge consistency if you mix this together with your hands rather than a spoon.

Heat 1/3″ oil in a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Fill a 1/4-cup measure or large serving spoon (not tightly packed) with latke mixture and carefully slide it into the skillet, flattening to about 3 inches in diameter with a slotted spatula. Form 2-3 more latkes in skillet, allowing some space around them, and fry until undersides are deep golden, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. Turn over very gently and fry until deep golden all over, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes more. (If latkes brown too quickly, lower heat a bit.) Transfer to paper towels to drain briefly, then keep warm in a single layer on a metal rack set in a shallow baking pan in the oven. Make more latkes in the same manner. Latkes can be fried ahead and served at room temp or reheated in the oven. Makes about 16 latkes.

Source: Adapted from Epicurious.

Update 4/26/07: I tried reheating the leftover latkes to go with our dinner, which was a roasted boneless leg of lamb and braised leeks with bacon. I adapted both of those for a 375F oven so I could do them at once, so when the roast came out to rest, I stuck the latkes on a rack under the leeks while the latter finished braising. The timing worked out perfectly for everything, and the latkes tasted just as good the second day; they accompanied the rest of the meal beautifully, and I could also see leftovers on that score reheated with some eggs for a great breakfast of, say, poached eggs on asparagus.

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