Potato Latkes with Clove-Scented Applesauce

Potato Latkes with Clove-Scented Applesauce
Yields 8
These perfectly cooked, sun-yellow, crispy-on-the-surface-and-tender-inside latkes shed light on another star (besides potatoes, of course): turmeric, a tad bit astringent but tasty sibling of the ginger family. Native to India, this is an anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting spice and a key ingredient in the dyes that yellow the fabrics that drape Hindu priests. I love that it bathes the potatoes in its golden hue—a perfect backdrop to the clove-scented applesauce.
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Potato Latkes
  1. 1 pound russet or Yukon Gold potatoes
  2. 1 small onion, finely chopped
  3. 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
  4. 1 teaspoon coarse sea or kosher salt
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  6. 2 fresh green serrano chiles, stems discarded, finely chopped (do not remove the seeds)
  7. Canola oil, for pan-frying
  8. Clove-Scented Applesauce, for serving (recipe follows)
Clove Scented Applesauce
  1. 1 large tart-sweet apple (such as Honeycrisp or Braeburn), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  2. 2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons ghee (see Tater Tip) or unsalted butter
  4. 3 slices fresh ginger (each about the size and thickness of a quarter; no need to peel first)
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  6. Juice from 1 small to medium-size lime (about 2 tablespoons)
Potato Latkes
  1. Fill a medium-size bowl with cold water.
  2. Peel the potatoes. Shred them through the large holes of a box grater, the fine teeth of a mandoline, or the shredding disk of a food processor. Submerge the shreds in the water for 15 to 30 minutes to allow the surface starch to settle to the bottom and to prevent them from discoloring due to oxidation.
  3. When you’re ready to continue, use a slotted spoon to scoop the potatoes out of the water into a colander to drain a bit.
  4. Carefully pour out the soaking water, making sure you save the potato starch that has sunk to the bottom (see Tater Tip). Dump the shreds back into the bowl and add the onion, cilantro, salt, turmeric, and chiles. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with several layers of paper towels, for draining the latkes of excess oil. Heat a large nonstick skillet or a griddle over medium heat. Drizzle in a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil appears to shimmer, drop in a heaping 1/4 cup of the potato batter (it will be a bit wet because of the liquid starch). Flatten it out with a spatula into a pancake roughly 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick and about 3 inches in diameter. Shape as many latkes as you can fit in the skillet without overcrowding. Cook them until the underside is golden brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip them over and continue cooking until the flipped side is golden brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove them from the skillet and drain them on the paper towels. Repeat with the remaining batter.
  6. Serve them warm, with the spiced applesauce on the side.
Clove Scented Applesauce
  1. Place the apple, brown sugar, ghee, ginger, cloves, lime juice, and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pan, and simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until the apples soften and most of the water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. If you have an immersion blender (also called a stick blender), puree the medley in the pot to a smooth and saucy consistency. If not, transfer the pan’s contents to a blender jar. Puree, scraping the inside of the jar as needed, until smooth. Scrape the sauce into a serving bowl and set it aside as you make the latkes.
  2. Or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve. The applesauce will keep for up to 2 weeks. Warm it up in the microwave before serving.
Notes
  1. I often make a double batch of this rich, pleasantly sweet-tart applesauce because, as well as being a perfect accompaniment, it’s a perfect afternoon pick-me-up. It appeases my appetite and doesn’t load me down with an insane amount of sugar. Makes 1 cup of applesauce.
  2. Excerpted from Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked by Raghavan Iyer (Workman). Copyright © 2016
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