Happy Passover, Y’all

Southern Jews have come a long way. Photos: UNC (left), Annual Kosher BBQ fest in Memphis (right)

Over the last 30 years, the numbers of Jews in the South has tripled–from 382,000 in 1970 to more than 1.2 million today–but Jews have been a part of southern culture for as long as there’s been a “South.” In 1800, there were more Jews in Charleston than in any other city in the U.S. Obviously, that’s not true today (hard to get that confused when you live in New York) but both Atlanta and Austin have incredibly thriving Jewish communities. All of this is to say, Happy Passover to all the Jewish southerners in New York and beyond. If you’re attending a seder or just feeling hungry, try my dad’s incredibly easy recipe for potato latkes.

Photo: James Beard

Dad’s Famous Latkes

Idaho Russet potatoes

White onions*

2-3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4-1/2 cup matzo meal

Salt and pepper to taste

*The ratio should be 3:1 potatoes to onions.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Wash and dry potatoes thoroughly. If you’re not going to make the latkes instantly, grate potatoes into cold water so that they don’t brown. Grate onion right into mixing bowl. Remove potatoes from water if soaking and place in a clean, white kitchen towel. Squeeze to remove all the water out. Transfer potatoes to bowl and mix with onions. Add beaten eggs (don’t worry too much about the amount of beaten egg here, as any excess will just drip to the bottom of the bowl). Add 1/4-1/2 cup matzo meal, depending on how many potatoes and onions you’ve used, to bind mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Meanwhile, add 1/8-inch of good vegetable oil (my dad uses safflower) to the bottom of a frying pan. Heat to a sizzle. Drop spoonfuls of potato-onion mixture into the hot oil, taking care not to overcrowd pan. Drain latkes on paper towel­lined plate, add salt and transfer to a baking sheet. Keep warm in preheated oven until all are done.

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Filed under Culture, Holidays, Recipes

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