Beet & Goat Cheese Latkes
December 3, 2020
Hanukkah is coming up, and that means it’s time to get ready to fry some things in oil! I don’t need the excuse to make fried foods, but I’ll take advantage of it. If you’ve been here before, you know I love trying new twists on classic favorites. Latkes are always something I have loved, and this recipe features beet and goat cheese. It will make for some fun colors and flavors on your Hanukkah table this year.
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If you’re not familiar with the story of Hanukkah, I’ll give you a quick rundown to better understand the oil and frying that occurs this time of year. The Jews were being persecuted by their Greek ruler, including outlawing Judaism, and taking over the Second Temple of Isreal in Jerusalem.
This led to a rebellion in which the Maccabees reclaimed the temple. Hanukkah is celebrated to honor the rededication of this temple. They needed to light the menorah according to their laws. This required a special pure oil, sealed by the high priest. However, much of the oil had been destroyed, and they only had enough to use for one day.
Miraculously, the short supply of oil burned in the menorah for eight days, the amount of time that was needed to press new oil. Fried foods are made and eaten in modern times to honor this miracle, just like these latkes or jelly donuts, called sufganiyot.
What You Need to Get Started
- Produce: Beets, Potatoes
- Fridge: Egg, Goat cheese
- Spice Rack: Salt
- Pantry: Applesauce (store bought or homemade), Vegetable oil (or other oil for frying)
- Equipment: Box grater, Mixing bowl, Frying pan, Paper towels
Let’s Make Beet Latkes with Goat Cheese
Latkes are one of those dishes that can feel intimidating, but they are actually pretty easy. These make only a small batch as well, so you won’t be frying all day, and the smell of oil won’t linger for too long in your kitchen.
To get started, gather your potatoes and beets. I love the magic of peeling a beet. They are these oddly shaped roots, covered in dirt. But when you peel them, it reveals the most brilliant magenta color. It blows my mind that anything is that color naturally.
When working with raw beets, line everything you don’t want to stain with paper towels. Your hands will also turn pink temporarily, but you can wash that off with soap and some good scrubbing.
The beets you’ll want to peel for sure, whether you are using red like I did or golden beets. The red have a stronger earthy flavor, as opposed to the golden which are more mellow. However, the brilliant color can only come from the red ones.
As for potatoes, peeling depends on the type and your preference. If your potatoes have a waxy skin, such as butter potatoes, there’s no need to peel unless you want to. Just give them a good scrubbing with your fingertips or a vegetable brush to remove any dirt. Rough-skinned varieties like russets should be peeled.
Once peeled or washed, grate all the root vegetables on the large side of a box grater into a large mixing bowl. Be careful when you get down to the ends so you don’t accidentally grate your fingertips. Toss the shredded pieces together to distribute them. This is also a good time to start heating up a thin layer of oil in your pan.
Add in the eggs and goat cheese. The eggs are super important to the structure of your latkes. They help hold everything together, so you don’t end up with fried potato bits instead of potato pancakes.
Goat cheese is a natural complement to beets. The tangy nature of this type of cheese pairs nicely with the bitter flavor of the beets. Its flavor can be a bit divisive. If you are not comfortable with the flavor you can replace some of the goat cheese with feta instead.
However, the two flavors really do come together to balance one another out. Both can be an acquired taste on their own. But together, it’s a nice blend of bitter and tart and earthy.
Stir everything up in the bowl until it’s all combined. But don’t worry too much about getting all that goat cheese fully mixed in and uniform. It’s totally okay for there to be some big chunks of cheese in the final product. In fact, I enjoyed those bites a lot!
Then, get ready to get a little messy. Use your hands to form the pancakes. I like to do this in batches so while one set is frying, you can form the patties for the next batch. That does require a lot of hand washing between steps, though.
You should get a total of 10-12 latkes out of this recipe, depending on the exact size of your produce. Each patty should be about 2-3 inches in diameter, and about a half inch thick. They will be quite wet when you first form them, but you can place them on a plate and they’ll hold their shape.
Working in batches of 3-4 latkes, depending on the size of your pan, it’s time to start frying. The oil is ready when a drop of water sizzles immediately when it’s added. Be careful not to test with too much water or it will splatter instead. Always wear clothes that are a little older and be ready to jump out of the way when frying.
Fry each side of the latkes for 2-3 minutes, and then flip them with a sturdy spatula to fry the other side. When they are ready, the latkes will be lightly browned and have crispy edges. They should also be dried out and a lot more structurally stable than the uncooked patties.
Remove them from the pan onto a paper towel-lined plate, and then immediately sprinkle each one with a pinch of salt. Then move on to the next batch. When you fill the plate, add another layer of paper towels, and place the new latkes on top of that. Let them cool for a few minutes, and then serve warm.
Bring some color to your Hanukkah table, or enjoy these beet and goat cheese latkes all year long!
How to Serve Beet & Goat Cheese Latkes
I am personally a believer that latkes are best served with applesauce, not sour cream. In this case, that’s especially true. The applesauce adds a touch of sweetness, which counters the earthy flavors of the beets. Plus, with goat cheese fried into these, you don’t need the additional dairy of sour cream.
If you’d like to make your own applesauce, my favorite recipe is a super simple one that requires no peeling and uses a slowcooker. This topping works whether you are serving these latkes as part of Hanukkah dinner, or adding them to a brunch spread.
Try them paired with something sweet and fruity, like a pear and apple crisp. For drinks, these will look gorgeous paired with the similarly colored raspberry lemon mojito. Or for something warm, serve them alongside hot pear cider.
Use Up Leftover Ingredients
Beet and Goat Cheese Latkes
- 2-4 Medium Beets (8-12 oz)
- 1-2 Medium Potatoes (6-8 oz) Any variety, peeled if desired
- 2 Eggs
- 4 oz Goat Cheese
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- Applesauce optional, for serving
- Peel the beets, and wash or peel the potatoes as desired. Then, use the large side of a box grater to shred the beets and potatoes into a large bowl. Toss to combine.
- Add the eggs and goat cheese to the bowl. Mix until everything is combined, but not necessarily uniform. It's okay to have some big chunks of cheese.
- In a flat bottomed, high-sided pan, heat a thin layer of oil until hot. To test the oil, a drop of water when added should sizzle immediately.
- Using your hands, form the beet mixture into 2 ½-inch diameter patties, about ½-inch thick, and add them to the hot oil, in batches of 3-4, depending on your pan size.
- Cook each 2-3 minutes per side until browned and crispy. Once fried, place the latkes on a paper towel lined plate and immediately sprinkle them with pinch of salt.
- Let cool 5-10 minutes, and then serve warm with a dollop of applesauce on top.
- Make ahead tip: These are best served immediately after frying. If you need to make them in advance, you can fry them only a few hours early, and store at room temperature. Before serving, reheat in the oven at 350F for about 10 minutes or until warmed through.
- For the brilliant red color, use red beets. However, golden beets have a flavor that is not as robust, that many people enjoy more. For the potatoes, you can use any type. Starchier potatoes like russets will fry up crispier than other varieties.