Double-Down Latkes, or Why Rob Eshman Is a Genius
Rob Eshman is the editor of and occasional food blogger for the Jewish Journal who raised the hackles of Los Angeles food bloggers earlier this year by posting 10 reasons Saveur's glowing review of LA's promise as a food destination was misguided.
Well, dear readers, Eshman has done his atonement; he has posted the best damn Festival of Lights recipe since Balducci's advertised Hanukkah ham. He has recreated KFC's Double Down sandwich--that disgusting amalgamation of salty chicken, salty Hashem-only-knows-what sauce and salty bacon that I and nearly every other food writer in the country panned back in April--with a delicious update: latkes instead of chicken, crème fraîche instead of the mystery goop and lox instead of bacon.
The idea is just genius. I mean, I jumped up and went to go to the kitchen, only to discover I had no potatoes and no eggs. It percolated in my head, though; I had to make it, so here it is: It's Hanukkah starting tonight, and latkes are on the menu.
Roll your own Double Down latkes!
Eshman and I differ on the recipe, though: Eshman wants chives (or, er, lettuce and onion) on his sandwich, and I prefer my onions to be hidden in the latke itself. His latke recipe is pretty much Yiddishe hash browns and doesn't really replicate the thickness of the chicken breasts that make up the trayf Double Down.
I make a thicker, more substantial latke, and takeh a latke stands up better to the sandwich, since it can flex as you eat it, without losing the outer crispiness that's so important to a good latke. Here's my recipe: try Eshman's if you like the crunch more than the pancake.
I bought the crème fraîche instead of making it myself, since I was in a hurry. Trader Joe's has very good crème fraîche, but substitute thick sour cream if you can't find any. The lox came from Dry Dock Fish Market in Fullerton.
You can probably figure out how to create the Tsveyik Arop sandwich, but go watch his video if you need guidance. Eshman suggests pairing with seltzer, but that's shmontses (nonsense): everybody knows that latkes go best with a Hanukkah gelt martini.
3 large Russet potatoes
1 small onion
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3/4 cup (or more) flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
Neutral oil (grapeseed, canola, corn, etc.) for frying
1. Peel and grate the potatoes and onion.
2. Put the grated vegetables in a clean tea towel, gather the corners, and wring until completely dry.
3. Place in a bowl with the eggs, the flour and the baking powder.
4. Mix gently until the flour is absorbed.
5. Add more flour until you can make a wet patty that will hold its shape.
6. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a skillet until it shimmers.
7. Form patties and slide them carefully into the skillet.
8. Fry until brown on one side (about 2-3 minutes), then flip and cook until done (another 2-3 minutes).
9. Remove to brown paper, paper toweling, or a rack.
10. Keep warm in a 170°F oven until all the pancakes are done.
11. Oy, aza mechaieh! (What a joy!)
Eshman, you're a mensch; you're a gaon. A new Hanukkah tradition is born.
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