Sweet Potato Leeky Latkes with Homemade Applesauce

by Kelly on December 6, 2010   

Thin, crisp on the outside, sweet flavors on the inside

The Husband is Jewish, so through marriage I’ve been pulled into the mystique of the latke. It is truly an irresistible food — so easy, really, but I was always timid about making them. After all, shouldn’t there be a bubbe somewhere in my kitchen, teaching me the ins and outs? Do I have the exact right grater? Flour or matzoh meal? I mean seriously! But the Husband has no demands latke-wise, and my mother-in-law lost the knack years ago in the shuffle of living in places like Seoul, Amsterdam, Manila, and Dallas. I’m on my own here.

I have made latkes in the past, but with regular potatoes. I have failed, however, to absorb the technique, so every year is like a new start — how long do you drain the potatoes? Well, Daughter #2 has been coming home every year from her school’s “Yam Festival” raving about the sweet potato latkes, so I decided to give them a try. Less pressure since they are less traditional. She was right, they are delicious, especially with some homemade applesauce and sour cream. And these are made with a lot less oil (shhh, don’t tell the bubbe!). So Happy Hanukkah, or heck, just make ’em for any day of the week.

Granny Smiths and a couple of Honeycrisps

Homemade Applesauce | 2 cups

You may be wondering why in the world you’d make applesauce from scratch. The answer is that it’s fast and it couldn’t be simpler. You can season it, sweeten it, cook it down, leave it chunky, add herbs, add wine — all in under a half hour. Here’s the short version of the recipe: Peel, core, chop 8 apples, throw in a pot with sugar and seasonings and small amount of water, cook gently 25 minutes. Done.

8 tart apples
2 heaping tablespoons sugar or to taste
Cinnamon stick
1-inch chunk of fresh ginger
Small pinch of thyme (optional)
1/4 cup water

Peel and core apples and cut into large chunks.

I use a paring knife but if you prefer a peeler that's fine -- whatever is fast

I just cut the apple around the core into 4 hunks (rather than search the drawer for my apple corer)

Apple chunks, cinnamon stick, and ginger chunk (leave some peel on it so you can identify and remove it at the end -- !)

Put the apple pieces, sugar, cinnamon stick, ginger, thyme and water in a pot. Cover and cook gently for 25 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and mostly falling apart. Let cool, remove the cinnamon stick and ginger, and serve.

This is cooked on the shorter side to make a chunkier applesauce

Sweet Potato and Leek Latkes | makes 24 to 28 latkes

Might as well invite people into the kitchen to eat these as you make them — it’s more convivial, and they are so good right out of the pan!

1 large leek
2 large sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons chopped chives (about 12 long chive stems)
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup canola oil, more or less
Olive oil

Trim the root from the leek and cut off most of the green tops. Cut in half lengthwise and rinse between the layers. Drain well and pat dry. Cut the leek into a fine lengthwise julienne.

Grit tends to collect between the leek layers, especially toward the top end, so rinse well

Cut the leek first into julienne strips...

...and then chop it down a little further for a fine shred like this

Scrub the potatoes and pat dry. Halve and coarsely grate. Chop the chives.

I didn't bother to peel the potato -- the extra color and nutrients are nice!

Nice color and flavor in the latkes

Combine the shredded leeks, the grated sweet potatoes, and the chives in a large bowl. Add the salt a little at a time, mixing well as after each addition. Mix in the beaten egg. Sprinkle in the flour, tossing the mixture to coat evenly.

Sweet potatoes are "dry" enough that they don't require draining for latkes like regular potatoes

Make sure the egg and flour are evenly distributed throughout the potato mixture

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with a rectangle of a paper bag, inside facing up.

Heat a thin layer of canola oil along with a few drops of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, form the latkes: on your hand, put a blob of potato mixture about the size of a golf ball. Flatten it against your fingers, and drop that right down onto the hot pan. Form another one and drop it in, repeating until you fill the pan. The latkes should sizzle but not smoke.

Cook the latkes on the first side until deeply browning and crisping, 2 to 3 minutes. The latkes cook fastest on the first side since there is more oil. Flip them carefully and cook on the second side until nicely browned, 4 to 5 more minutes.

They should hold together but be fairly thin

A nice, deep flavorful brown -- the sweet potato caramelizes beautifully

Place the cooked latkes on the paper bag-lined baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.

The bag keeps the latke crisp, and still absorbs the excess oil

This is a great way to keep latkes warm — that is, if you have any that haven’t been snatched right off your spatula!

Happy Hanukkah.

Kelly McCune © 2010
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10 Best Latke Recipes for Hanukkah | Yummly
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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

SaladSnail December 20, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Good morning Kelly!
In the intro to the applesauce you have “cook it down, leave it chunky, add herbs, add wine…” Wine? Hmm. Got my attention! LOL! Is this a typo?

Looking forward to the weekend and having Latkes and Applesauce on Christmas. Thanks for another great recipe!

Sue Ruddick December 22, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Hi Kelly

We are going to have these for our Xmas eve meal — thanks for posting!


Kelly December 29, 2010 at 9:10 pm

You can add a little wine instead of water (like a nice riesling or gewürztraminer) before cooking it down…or just have a glass of wine with your applesauce!

Leah December 10, 2012 at 6:29 pm

This recipe is delicious but 2 eggs are needed! the latkes didn’t hold with just 1 and I had to add another.

Kelly December 18, 2012 at 11:23 am

I often use really large eggs — that may explain the difference! But for anyone using smaller eggs, Leah has a good suggestion. Thanks!

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