Diners flock to Philadelphia’s Abe Fisher — helmed by James Beard Award–winning restaurateurs Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook — for the fresh take on classic Jewish fare. From borscht tartare with sour cream and onion potato chips to chicken liver mousse with pastrami onion jam, chef and partner Yehuda Sichel transforms the traditional. Whether or not you’ve spent a lifetime eating these dishes, they become new and revelatory in his kitchen.
This season, chef Sichel is serving up a Hanukkah classic that dates back centuries — and one that draws inspiration from his own childhood. “Latkes were a staple in my grandmother’s house and actually, they were always something my grandparents would make together. My grandmother would peel the potatoes alongside my grandfather, standing in front of the stove-top, frying them in batches,” Sichel recalls. “It will always be one of my favorite memories around food.”
But instead of applesauce, this holiday Abe Fisher will pair cider with the famed potato pancakes in a move that decidedly wins Hanukkah.
“Ciders work tremendously well with food because of their high acidity and fruitiness, and particularly with latkes, countering the perfect richness of the fried potato,” says Abe Fisher general manager and beverage director Brian Kane. “Plus the relatively low in ABV (alcohol by volume) allows you to either have several of the same, enjoy a few different ciders side by side, or have a single beverage with little consequence.”
Steal this genius idea and replicate Abe Fisher’s Hanukkah spread at home. Chef Sichel’s latkes will come with a trio of toppings — scrambled eggs, cheddar, and truffle; roast beef, apple, and fresh horseradish; and dill sour cream and caviar — but feel free to stick to the straightforward potato pancakes. Either way, make sure to stock up on a few bottles of cider. Kane recommends the Snowdrift Cider Co.Barrel-Aged Cornice from Washington, or the Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouché Brut de Normandie from France. One of the many virtues of cider is its versatility, though, so choose a favorite and say l’chaim. We’re sure your bubbe would approve.
Abe Fisher’s Potato Latkes
By Chef/Partner Yehuda Sichel
Makes 20-25 latkes
3 lbs, or approximately six large potatoes, peeled
½ cup flour
1/8 cup Kosher salt
4 cups vegetable oil for frying
Warm ¼ cup of oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. While the pan is preheating, crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Using a box grater or a food processor grating disc, grate the potatoes and add to the eggs. Add the flour and salt and mix the dry ingredients into the wet working quickly to prevent the potato from oxidizing. Using a small ice cream scoop or two spoons, drop golf ball-sized spoonfuls of potatoes into the hot oil, pressing down gently with a spatula to flatten into pancakes. Be careful not to crowd the pan. Fry for approximately 5 minutes on each side, or until the exterior is golden brown and the interior is cooked through.
Place the latkes on a cooling rack to let drain. Continue with the remaining mixture, adding additional oil to the pan as necessary.
With Dill Sour Cream
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup chopped dill
1 oz caviar
1 bunch chives, chopped
Combine the sour cream with chopped dill and season with salt to taste. Spoon one teaspoon of the dill sour cream on each latke. Top with a dollop of caviar. Garnish with chives and serve immediately.
With Roast Beef
1/8 cup canola oil
1lb beef tenderloin
1 ¼ tsp paprika
1 ¼ tsp black pepper
2 ½ tsp kosher salt
1lb honeycrisp or fuji apples, peeled and diced
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp allspice
1 small fresh horseradish root
Preheat the oven to 350º. Warm canola oil over high heat in a large skillet. Season the tenderloin generously with salt, paprika and black pepper. Place the tenderloin in the hot pan and sear on all sides for one minute per side to give it its initial color. Put the tenderloin in the oven and roast for about 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 120º. Remove the meat to a plate to rest.
While the meat is resting, make the applesauce. Place the diced apples in a small sauce pan with the sugar, black pepper, salt and allspice. Cook, covered, over low heat until the apples are fully cooked and tender, approximately 20 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the apples from burning. Transfer to the food processor and pulse 2-3 times until the applesauce reaches a chunky consistency (or longer for a smoother applesauce).
To assemble, thinly slice the beef and layer 2-3 small pieces on each hot latke. Top with a spoonful of applesauce and freshly grated horseradish. Serve immediately.
With Truffled Eggs
¼ cup milk
Kosher salt to taste
½ cup truffle butter
¾ cup cheddar cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the eggs and cream (milk or cream) to a mixing bowl and beat with a fork until well combined. Place a large heatproof bowl over the pot of boiling water (making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water). Add ¾ of the truffle butter and then the beaten eggs. Stir frequently with a spatula. Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until the eggs reach your desired texture. When there is no more liquid left in the eggs, fold in the cheese. Once the cheese is fully incorporated, remove the bowl from the double boiler and keep warm off the heat covered with plastic wrap.
To assemble, place a spoonful of truffled eggs on each hot latke and top with a small pat of the remaining truffle butter. Serve immediately.