Hanukkah traditionally doesn’t call for a massive celebration; you usually light some candles, get a few gifts, eat some chocolate and sufganiyot (doughnuts), and go back to your business. But since it holds some religious significance, and is close to Christmas, it has become the most well-known and celebrated of the Jewish holidays in America.
But since the Festival of Lights lasts eight nights, it only seems logical that for one of them you’d want to do something a little different from the typical latkes and doughnuts served around the holiday. That’s why we asked some of our favorite chefs and food experts to offer some advice on how to reshape Hanukkah cuisine. There are few opportunities every year to eat potatoes and doughnuts without feeling guilty, so you ought to do it up right while you can.
Spike Mendleshon’s Loukou Beignets
Made by one of the most popular chefs in Washington, DC, Spike Mendleshon’s deep-fried puffs drizzled with honey are a New Year’s Eve tradition in many parts of Greece and a sweet enjoyed at Hanukkah. Since the Top Chef contestant happens to be both Greek and Jewish, these have become part of his “Grewish” tradition.
- 2 cups fresh orange juice, strained to remove pulp
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup orange blossom honey
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- Warm 1 cup of the orange juice in the microwave, about 1 minute on low power. Add the year to the warm orange juice and stir to dissolve. In a large bowl, beat the orange juice-yeast mixture, 4 cups of the flour, and the sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Cover and set aside in a warm place.
- When the volume has doubled in size, about 30 minutes, add the remaining 1 cup orange juice, the remaining 1/2 cup flour, and the salt to make a thick batter. Cover again and allow the mixture to rise until it begins to bubble, about 1 hour.
- Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Line a metal tray with paper towels. When the oil begins to smoke, add the dough in level tablespoonfuls. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the dough puffs and turns golden-brown, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain briefly on the paper towels. Transfer to a platter and pour honey over top. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve hot.
Our pairing suggestion: Left Hand Milk Stout or Murphy’s Irish stout. The chocolate taste will go well with the orange flavors from the beignets.
Littleneck’s Potato Latkes with Gin-Cured Arctic Char
This recipe, courtesy of Brooklyn, NY seafood restaurant Littleneck’s chef Nick Williams, puts a spin on the classic Hannukah potato latke with the addition of cured fish, something not at all unfamiliar at Jewish holiday gatherings. At Littleneck, they use Arctic Char, a freshwater fish in the salmon family, cured with a fragrant gin for that little extra bit of L’chiam!
Cured Arctic Char
- 2 1-1.5 lbs filets of Arctic Char, deboned
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup salt
- 6 oz gin, preferably something with pronounced botanicals such as Greenhook
- 4 sprigs of dill
- 2 tablespoons of crushed coriander seeds
- Coat a baking sheet with a layer of gin (be sure to use something with raised edges) and place the filets on top.
- Combine the sugar, brown sugar, salt, and crushed coriander seeds together in mixing bowl. Spread the mixture evenly and liberally over the Arctic Char.
- Sprinkle the fish with sprigs of dill and drizzle gin over the cure mixture.
- Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and let sit refrigerated at least 8 hours or over night.
- 6 large Potatoes
- 1 Spanish onion
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2-3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon old bay
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- Shred the potatoes on a cheese grater and soak in a cold water bath for 10-20 minutes.
- Shred or grate the onion.
- Dry the shredded potatoes and add the onion, salt, black pepper, old bay, cayenne, baking powder, and beaten eggs. The mixture should be slightly wet.
- Add the flour a tablespoon at a time to thicken the mixture.
- Form your latkes to the desired size and fry in oil over medium-high heat until golden brown and crispy.
- Season with salt.
Our pairing suggestion: Belgian Triple, something like Westmalle. It’s crisp but also a stronger beer (around 8-9%) and has a lot of spice character so it goes well with the floral flavor of the gin.
Blue Ribbon’s Challah Doughnuts
Sufganiyot, fried dough balls filled with strawberry or some other kind of jam, are a Hanukkah tradition. And while you might settle instead for a dozen jelly doughnuts when the real thing can’t be found, consider making everybody happy by frying up these challah doughnuts that Bruce and Eric Bromberg of Blue Ribbon Restaurants came up with. Because no matter who you are or what you believe, doughnuts make people from all walks of life happy.
- 3 Eggs
- 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
- 1 ½ cups Granulated White Sugar
- 4 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp Table Salt
- 1 oz. Fresh Yeast (crumbled)
- ½ cup Whole Milk
- Vegetable Oil for Frying
- Whip three eggs in a small bowl. Set aside
- Mix together cinnamon and 1 cup of sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Sift flour, sugar, and salt into a large mixing bowl.
- Gound the flour and make a small well in the top. Add in fresh yeast, whole milk, and eggs and begin mixing the wet ingredients within the well with your finger tips, slowly working in the flour.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes by folding the dough on its self and then rotating clockwise a quarter of a turn at a time.
- After 10 minutes, place the dough in a floured mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to ferment for 1 hour.
- After the dough has risen, use a floured rolling pin and roll out a rectangle about 1” thick.
- Using a 3” doughnut cutter, cut 20 doughnuts and place them on an oiled sheet pan.
- Heat 1” of oil in a frying pan to 375oF. Fry the doughnuts for 1 minute on each side in vegetable oil.
- Cool the doughnuts on a wire rack and then toss in cinnamon sugar.
Our pairing suggestion: Farnum Hill Dooryard. Because is there anything more delicious than doughnuts and cider? We think not.
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