There’s just something about comfort food that always gets me excited to eat. Give me some mac n’ cheese, tuna casserole or a grilled cheese sandwich and I am good to go. Can you tell that I love dairy? Hanukkah, which is traditionally celebrated with oily and cheesy foods, really is the perfect holiday for me!
On Hanukkah we eat foods fried in oil to symbolize the oil that lasted eight days when the Maccabees rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after their victory over the Greeks. The dairy is to celebrate Judith’s victory when she saved her village from the Babylonians. Basically, she served the General of the Babylonian army a basket of wine and salty cheese (the salt made him thirsty and got him very drunk). When he passed out, she beheaded him and scared away his army. It’s a bit graphic but definitely worth celebrating!
So now let’s get back to my comfort food, which really does tie in to Hanukkah beautifully. I decided that what this holiday really needed was a crispy latke fried in oil then sandwiched together with cheese. Sounds good, right?!? Jewish-American comfort food taken to the max.
2-3 large potatoes, peeled (2 cups grated)
3 Tbsp plain bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp light olive oil
5-10 slices cheddar cheese
Line a large bowl with a kitchen towel and line a baking sheet with two layers of paper towels.
Peel and grate the potatoes and place them in the towel then squeeze out all of the liquid from the potatoes. Discard the liquid then place the dried potatoes in the bowl.
Stir in the egg, bread crumbs, salt and pepper until combined.
In a heavy saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. To test if the oil/butter mixture is hot enough, drop a small piece of the potato mixture into the pan and if bubbles form around the edges, the oil is ready.
Carefully place two ¼ cup-sized scoops of the potato mixture in the pan and cook for two minutes, until the latkes are browning on the bottom.
Flip the latkes over carefully with a spatula and place 1-2 slices of cheddar cheese on one latke. Cook for one more minute then place the second latke on top of the cheese and press down. Cook for 30 seconds then flip over the grilled cheese latke sandwich, press down and cook for 30 more seconds.
Place the hot grilled cheese latkes on the paper towels to drain then repeat this process to make 3-4 more sandwiches.
Once the latkes have drained, it’s time to eat!
If you want to take these grilled cheese latkes to the next level, you can add avocado or spinach to the cheese while cooking or switch it up with your favorite cheese.
Pronounced: KHAH-nuh-kah, also ha-new-KAH, an eight-day festival commemorating the Maccabees’ victory over the Greeks and subsequent rededication of the temple. Falls in the Hebrew month of Kislev, which usually corresponds with December.