DINYE LATKES (Pumpkin latkes)
Makes 8 to 10 latkes
11⁄2 pounds peeled pumpkin or butternut squash
1 medium onion, peeled
2 large eggs
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground white pepper
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Peanut oil for frying
Whole-berry cranberry sauce for serving
1. Grate pumpkin and onion, using the grating disc of a food processor or the large holes of a grater. In a large bowl, beat eggs with salt and pepper, and add pumpkin mixture. Add flour and mix well.
2. Heat1⁄2 inch of oil in a heavy 10- to 12-inch nonstick skillet. Pack a 1⁄4-cup measure with the mixture, pressing well, and turn it out into the skillet. Flatten with a spatula to about 3 inches in diameter. Quickly repeat with 3 more cakes or as many as your pan will hold without crowding.
3. Fry over medium heat for 3 minutes; turn carefully with a slotted spatula and fry second side 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels.
4. Continue with the rest. Stir the mixture before frying each new batch and add a little more oil to pan, giving it time to heat. Serve hot with cranberry sauce. —Leah A. Zeldes
Thanksgivukkah? Chanksgiving? As if there weren’t enough mishmosh already about the spelling of Hanukkah — or is it Chanukah? — this year we’ve got another thing to think about. On Nov. 28, that all-American holiday, Thanksgiving, falls on the first day of the eight-day Jewish festival Hanukkah, a once-in-a-lifetime meetup of the fourth Thursday in November on the U.S. calendar and the 25th day of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar.
The last time they overlapped was in 1888 and, the eggheads tell us, it won’t happen again till 76695.
So your one big chance to meld these two festivals of religious freedom comes now: Honor the brave band of Jewish fighters who battled oppression in their homeland in the second century B.C. alongside the brave band of pilgrims who fled oppression across an ocean to a new homeland in 1621.
What else do they have in common? Eating!
We asked local chefs and restaurateurs to weigh in on how to mix the two traditions on your plate.
Considering how long until the next time, one night of Thanksgivukkah isn’t enough for Chef Cleetus Friedman of Fountainhead (1970 W. Montrose, Chicago), who envisions eight nights of turkey: Latke-stuffed turkey to start things off the first night of Hanukkah (Thanksgiving Eve, since Jewish days begin at sunset), followed on the big day by carved whole turkey stuffed with seasonal root vegetables, and then using up the leftovers on the next six nights with ground turkey liver on pumpernickel toast, turkey matzo ball soup, turkey salad on challah, fried matzo with turkey and cranberry sauce, roasted-turkey hopple popple (an egg dish typically made with all-beef salami) and, finally, “The Menorah,” two potato latkes sandwiching sliced turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy and cole slaw.
Natalie Levine, marketing director for Mercadito (108 W. Kinzie, Chicago) and Little Market Brasserie (10 E. Delaware, Chicago), plans a holiday feast at home feting three traditions: American, Jewish and those of her native Mexico. “I grew up in Mexico City, and I’m Jewish, so it’s already unusual.”
With the help of the restaurants’ chefs, she’s putting together a multicultural menu, centering on chipotle-braised turkey with savory “stuffing” kugel.
Fried foods form a particular custom of Hanukkah, symbolizing a miraculously replenished oil lamp, hence the American-Jewish potato pancakes called latkes and the Israeli jelly doughnuts dubbed sufganiyot. Levine’s sufganiyot will have cream-cheese-pumpkin-maple filling and a dusting of coconut sugar.
“I am all over Thanksgivukkah!” says Laura Frankel, executive chef of Spertus Kosher Catering. “I am doing the holiday from a American Jewish point of view versus a Jewish American point. I am a patriotic American who loves the country that allows me to celebrate my religious holidays to the fullest. Therefore, I am doing Thanksgiving food with a Hanukkah twist.”
Whichever comes first, Frankel also goes for pumpkin sufganiyot, filled with cranberry-apple jelly, finishing up a meal of turkey schnitzels and sweet-potato latkes.
Chef Steve Chiappetti at J. Rocco Italian Table & Bar (749 N. Clark, Chicago) came up with menu ideas by tweaking the repertoire of his mother-in-law, stuffing citrus-glazed turkey with challah, walnuts and raisins with such accompaniments as noodle kugel; braised brisket popovers; tzimmes — a stew of sweet potato, parsnips and prunes — potato and sweet-potato latkes with cranberry-apple sauce, and cranberry-filled sufganiyot.