1.16.2020

KALE LATKES // the local food report


Five years ago, in the fall of 2014, I interviewed Cathy Walthers of Martha's Vineyard about her new cookbook Kale, Glorious Kale. This was around the same time you started seeing people in those gray t-shirts that say KALE instead of YALE. Apparently it's also the year that marked the start of a worldwide kale seed shortage, a problem that, if the dates of news articles offer any insight, appears to have been resolved. 

In the meantime, our intake of kale has remained steady and high. We grow a variety from Fedco called Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch, which seems to do better for some reason than the Lacinato kale in the never-ending battle against cabbage moths. We do not have any serious winter production going this year, but it's often at the farmers market and is nearly always the best looking winter green at our tiny local grocery shop. 

The other day, hunting around for a Local Food Report repeat, I dug up my conversation with Cathy (give a listen here), and reached out to her about trying a new recipe to post with a re-airing of the piece. She responded with kale latkes, I spent the afternoon finely chopping kale and onions and grating potatoes, and Alex and the girls and I spent the evening gobbling up crispy, salty cakes of delight. 


One exciting thing about making latkes that I don't think I'd ever seen before is the way the potato starch settles at the bottom of the bowl. Cathy has you grate the potatoes and soak them in water for 10 minutes before gently pulling them out and wringing the water from them. Then you let the water stand a bit while you mix the grated potatoes, chopped kale, and onion. When you go to pour off the water there's a pile of pure white potato starch settled at the bottom of the bowl, which you mix with eggs and flour and finally with the veggies, which I am assuming (minus the kale) is standard latke protocol. Still, I'd never seen potato starch in this form before, and it felt like sitting down with an old friend only to discover something totally new. 

The girls devoured these, including my 8-year-old green-hater. Alex suggested they'd be good with a piece of fish on top, which I think is genius. I'd add they'd be great with a fried egg, and we ate them with Cathy's yogurt-dill dip and a side of homemade applesauce. However you go about it, they're excellent. 


POTATO KALE LATKES

EH notes: I am printing this recipe exactly as Cathy sent it. I did make a few changes. I fried my latkes in a cast iron skillet in homemade lard, which likely added some crispiness and slight (delicious) pork flavor. Also, I can't remember what kind of potatoes we grew, but they were yellow and medium sized (maybe Kennebec?—they look right and are a favorite) and those are what I used, not Idaho. I used whole wheat flour in place of all-purpose. And last but not least, for the sauce I used full fat Greek yogurt, not sour cream, and was out of horseradish so didn't add any, though I think it would be delicious.

Makes about 18

Potatoes and kale have a natural affinity; the kale adds a character and flavor to regular potato latkes. Read the recipe through before starting so you understand about using the starch from the water the potatoes soak in; it keeps these potato pancakes from absorbing oil so they can stay crispy. These can also be served for dinner with beef, chicken or fish, and/or at breakfast or brunch with anything. Any leftovers reheat nicely the next day, reheated in a skillet with a smidgeon of melted butter.

2 pounds Idaho potatoes
3 cups kale, stalks removed, finely chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt
1/2 cup finely minced onion (about 1/2 onion)
1/4 cup flour
2 large eggs

Olive oil, peanut oil or butter for cooking


Dill Sour Cream

1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish (optional)
Salt and fresh pepper

1. Place the chopped kale in a large bowl and add 2 teaspoons olive oil and 2 pinches of salt. Massage kale for 2 to 3 minutes. If it seems moist, use a few paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.

2. Peel the potatoes. Either grate the potatoes with a box grater, or quarter lengthwise and use the shredder attachment on the food processor. You should have about 6 cups. Place grated potatoes in a bowl of water for 10 minutes or so. Line a bowl with a clean kitchen towel or two layers of paper towels. Lift the potatoes out a handful at a time, squeezing out the water with your hands over the soaking bowl as you go, and place into the clean towel or paper towels. Save the bowl with the soaking water and potato starch, and let potato starch settle to the bottom (this might take a few minutes). Squeeze the towel to soak up excess moisture from potatoes getting them as dry as possible. Add potatoes to the kale, along with the minced onion.

3. Pour off the water in the soaking bowl, leaving white potato starch at the bottom of the bowl (there will be up to 3 or 4 tablespoons). Add the eggs and flour to the starch, and mix with a fork. Add this mix to the latkes. Season with salt.

4. Heat one or two large skillets (non-stick work nicely) over medium high and coat the bottom with about a tablespoon of olive oil or a mix of olive oil and a little butter. Pack a 1/4 measuring cup with the potato-kale mix. Unmold into the skillet, without crowding, and gently flatten each with a spatula. Pan fry until latke is golden, then gently flip and cook the other side, about 10-14 minutes in total. Repeat with the remaining latkes. (Sometimes I make a test latke to help find the right level of salt). Place latkes on a baking sheet lined with paper towels in a 200-degree oven to keep warm, until ready to serve. Serve with sour cream mixed with the chopped dill and horseradish.

3 comments :

gremolata said...

Thank you for this wonderful chat and recipe about Kale! It was so interesting and just long enough!I can't wait to see Cathy's new book about Kale and try the Latkes recipe!

sally laRhette

rosemaryrose said...

These look great! Also interesting to know about your success with Dwarf Blue Scotch kale, I have similar struggles with cabbage moths but haven’t tried that cultivar. Really nice to have you posting again!

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