It always surprises people to find out if I had my choice, my last meal on this earth would probably be a Chicago Dog and Rippled Potato Chips. Admittedly, I do not publicize this as I think I would disappoint a lot of people who think chefs prefer to eat Foie Gras and Truffles every day. But ask most chefs and they might admit to a secret vice for Burger King or Twinkies. We all love, appreciate and respect fine food, but you might be surprised at what we yearn for…and seldom let ourselves have. For me, one such thing is potato latkes (in addition to chips and hot dogs). But only the very crispy, lacy kind fresh out of the fry pan.
In my youth, my mother would get everyone excited at this time of year by announcing it was “latke night” and then deliver some anemic low-calorie, low fat version. Limp, pasty, salt-less. And they would not be eaten. Oh, she knew how to make the crisp kind, leaking oil (as is proper!) and crunchy with kosher salt, but they were “not good for you”. Her kind were “healthier”. Yeah, “healthier” because NO ONE WOULD EAT THEM!
So I have always craved potato latkes, made the traditional kind once a year and made a pig of myself. I have been known to make a meal on more than one latke (try 6!) and I have always hoped that I could find another option that gave me the same satisfaction and that I could eat more often. Well, I found it. Still fried, Mom(sorry), but made with a healthy green vegetable, zucchini. These are easy and I think everyone will like then.
2 medium zucchini (about ¾ lb.), peeled or unpeeled, depending on how fresh they look
2 TBL. red onion, finely chopped (or grated)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 TBL. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground pepper
Clarified butter or a mixture of butter and vegetable oil or canola oil
- Put a cookie cooling rack over a baking pan and set aside.
- Heat the oven to 300°.
- Grate the zucchini into a bowl using the large side of a box grater. Add the chopped or grated onion and put in a fine meshed strainer set over a bowl. Let drip for about 1 hour.
- Wrap in a paper towel and press to squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
- Heat a mixture of butter/oil or clarified butter in a heavy frying pan (I use cast iron) until hot, but not smoking. There should be a thin film of butter/oil covering the bottom of the pan. Depending on the size of your pan, less than a tablespoon should be adequate.
- Add the eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper to the zucchini mixture and mix well.Immediately, drop a heaping tablespoon of the zucchini mixture into the pan and flatten slightly. Repeat until the pan is full, leaving an inch between the latkes.
- Lower the heat a bit (so the latkes don’t burn) and fry about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and fry the other side about 2 minutes.
- Transfer the latkes to the cooling rack, place in the oven to hold hot* and fry the remainder of the zucchini, adding more fat as needed.
- Sprinkle with a little kosher salt before serving.
*The latkes can hold in the low oven for about 30 minutes.
Still not diet food, but a delicious way to get your veggies-kids will love them! Add grated carrots for an even prettier presentation and a boost in nutrition.