Hanukkah starts at sundown on Tuesday, and that makes a delightful justification for eating foods fried in oil. The holiday commemorates the miracle of one night’s worth of oil lasting for eight nights. For those who don’t observe Hanukkah, now is as good a time as any to commemorate the deliciousness of fried food. Either way, it’s a win-win situation.
“Here in the U.S. and the New York area, I think most people, when they think of Hanukkah, the first food people think of is the potato pancake, or potato latke,” said Dan Pashman, who along with Mark Garrison, creates the Sporkful food podcast. “But actually in Israel, the most common Hanukkah food is doughnuts, and most commonly there, jelly doughnuts. Or as they call them there, sufganiyot, which translates as oil sponges.”
In New York City, Garrison notes that Doughnut Plant on the Lower East Side has improved on the traditional jelly doughnut with the creation of a square version with a hole in the middle. The jelly is distributed through the middle of the doughnut ring. “Each bite has an equal amount of jelly and it doesn’t spill over,” he said, “so it’s a nice innovation you can get when you’re in New York.”
Garrison also attempted to make doughnuts at home and advises carving out plenty of time, as well as inviting friends to help eat the pastries — and clean up.
“The difficulty of making doughnuts is you have to deal with the oil, and it takes some time,” he explained.
In addition, Garrison points out that each doughnut will lower the temperature of the frying oil, so don’t overload the fryer or pan.
When it comes to the consumption of the sugary treat, the Sporkful guys are doughnut dunking connoisseurs. In addition to dunking in coffee and milk, Pashman suggests dunking a doughnut in tea with honey or chocolate milk.
Garrison endorses the use of a “coffee sidecar,” which is simply a small amount of coffee dedicated to dunking. That way, there will still be coffee unblemished with sugar or crumbs on which to sip.
These days when talking about doughnuts, though, it’s hard to ignore the various over-the-top doughnut innovations out there. Rest assured, Pashman and Garrison have taken it upon themselves to venture into the doughnut-burger realm.
“I recommend if you’re going to do that, the way I found it works best [is] if you can actually grill the doughnut a little bit,” said Garrison. “You have the glazed doughnut, and it’s going to caramelize the sugar on the outside, so again you’ll have a nice kind of crisp crunch, and then you penetrate that and then you have the cheeseburger, or the bacon cheeseburger as I’ve done before.”
Pashman, who is Jewish, has created a number of doughnut-based and latke-based sandwiches in honor of Hanukkah.
“You can take a yeast doughnut, slice it in half and put a potato pancake inside, and combine the sort of the American Jewish Hanukkah tradition and the Israeli Jewish Hanukkah tradition,” he said of a concoction he's dubbed “The Maccabee Delight.”
Then, just to push the envelope further, there’s "The Hanukkah Miracle," which is chicken schnitzel sandwiched between two potato pancakes.
“That’s called the Hanukkah Miracle because it looks so good you think you can eat it all in one bite, but then it lasts eight miraculous bites,” explained Pashman.
Below, find the recipes for both fried Hanukkah treats. The recipe for traditional and sweet potato latkes can be found here.
The Maccabee Delight
by The Sporkful
The glazed donut with a potato pancake on it, with sour cream and apple sauce, is really good. The sour cream is the key.— Dan Pashman
- 1 glazed yeast donut (can also use apple donuts or apple cider donuts, although yeast donuts are generally better for sandwiches)
- 1-2 potato pancakes (enough to create a single layer covering the surface area of the donut cross section)
- sour cream and apple sauce, both at room temperature
Warm the donut in the oven. Remove the donut and cut it in half the long way. Spread sour cream on the bottom half and apple sauce on the top half. This distribution puts the sour cream closer to your tongue and thus accentuates that flavor. Sour cream is key here, because it balances the sweetness of the donut and apple sauce. Then place a hot, crispy potato pancake onto the bottom half of donut, put the top half on top, and enjoy in sandwich form.
The Hanukkah Miracle
by The Sporkful
- 1 breaded fried chicken cutlet (or chicken schnitzel)
- 2 potato pancakes, about the same size as the cutlet
Make sure all three ingredients are hot and crispy, ideally because they're freshly prepared, or if not, because they've been reheated in the oven, directly on the rack. Place the chicken cutlet between the potato pancakes. Enjoy in sandwich form, and as you do, see if you can get the sandwich to last eight miraculous bites.