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Give Latkes a Twist with Ginger Sweet Potato Pancakes with Orange Zest

Let’s start by clarifying that these are not your traditional latkes. The classic Jewish latkes for Hanukkah are typically made with russet or Yukon gold potatoes and are usually seasoned with salt, pepper, and onion.

These sweet potato pancakes are different – they are shredded sweet potato pancakes with minced fresh ginger and orange zest.

They have a warm and earthy flavor from the ginger and a zesty touch from the orange. You’ll want to generously season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Similar to traditional potato pancakes, these sweet potato latkes pair well with applesauce or sour cream.

While traditional potato pancakes are a household favorite, there are plenty of other options to explore aside from white potatoes. You can make vegetable latkes from beets, zucchini, carrots, butternut squash, or cauliflower. They may not taste or look exactly like potato latkes, but there are eight nights of Hanukkah to experiment with new variations!

You can keep the seasonings simple or try various combinations such as fresh herbs, curry powder, cumin, minced garlic, za’atar, chili powder, Aleppo pepper, or sumac. You can also blend plain Greek yogurt, crème fraiche, or sour cream with different seasonings to serve with the pancakes.

Using sweet potatoes instead of russets has its advantages. Sweet potatoes contain less water, so there’s no need to squeeze them dry. However, they require more attention to achieve that crispy exterior in the pan, as sweet potato fries are never as crispy as regular fries.

This is because they have less natural starch, which contributes to crispiness, and more natural sugar, which can cause the pancakes to burn. Adding a bit of cornstarch and flour to the mixture can help promote crispiness.

Additionally, sweet potatoes require careful monitoring while cooking to prevent burning, as they contain more natural sugar. Pressing down on the pancakes as they cook allows them to cook evenly and achieve the desired crispiness. It’s important to ensure that the underside of each pancake is browned and firm before flipping.

When preparing each batch of pancakes, adding a little more oil and bits of butter to the pan is recommended. It’s also advisable to wipe the pan with a paper towel between batches, especially if the oil is getting dark or pieces of charred potato and onion are floating in the pan.

To keep the latkes warm until serving, preheat the oven to 300 degrees and transfer them to a baking sheet. Alternatively, serve the pancakes in batches, directly from the pan.

If you plan to serve these pancakes as part of a kosher meal involving meat, fry them in olive oil only and refrain from using butter or sour cream. Kosher meals cannot mix meat and dairy.

Leftover sweet potato latkes can be stored in the fridge for up to two days. Reheat them in a preheated 300-degree oven for 7 to 10 minutes on a wire rack placed on a baking sheet.

Sweet potato latkes with fresh ginger and orange zest

Make about 30 pancakes, serves 10

Ingredients: 

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled
2 large eggs
1 large onion (finely minced; about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons peeled minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
About 1/3 cup olive oil
About 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
Applesauce and sour cream to serve

Directions:

Grate the sweet potatoes using a food processor or a handheld grater.

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