Enjoy latkes without guilt

The Associated PressDecember 5, 2012 

Traditional potato latkes are a widely loved staple of the yearly Hanukkah feast. And what’s not to love about hamburger-size hash browns topped with sour cream?

Still, wonderful as they are, latkes are not light. My re-design employs both sweet potatoes and the more traditional white potatoes, significantly reducing the amount of oil required to cook these bad boys. I also substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream.

Sweet potatoes, especially the intensely orange ones, are a terrific source of beta carotene. And despite their sweetness, sweet potatoes are not high in calories. But because they’re also not very high in starch, they need a starch partner. Hence the white potatoes, along with a little egg, and some flour as a binder.

The ideal latke has a crisp crust with a moist interior. Traditionally, that crispness is achieved by frying in a lot of oil. Figuring out how to crisp up these latkes without a ton of oil was the hardest part of developing this recipe.

After much trial and error, I realized I could develop a satisfactory crust if I added a little oil to the skillet for each side of the pancakes.

I then finish them off in a 350 degree oven because the recipe’s sweet potatoes, with their high sugar content, turn the latkes too dark if left on the stove for more than a few minutes.

What gives this recipe its Southwestern flavor? The combination of sweet potato and the chipotle in the yogurt topping. Sugar and chilies do a happy dance, balancing each other off. You can depend on these complementary flavors to make the dish just right. However, if you are not a fan of chilies, leave out the chipotle. Likewise, If you’re not a fan of cilantro, substitute dill, parsley or chives.These Southwestern latkes also would be a great little side dish any time of the year.

SOUTHWESTERN LATKES WITH CHIPOTLE YOGURT 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled, grated and squeezed of moisture

3/4 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, grated and squeezed of moisture

2/3 cup finely chopped scallions

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Kosher salt

6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1-2 teaspoons minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, or to taste

Pinch of sugar

Fresh cilantro, to garnish

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine sweet potatoes, Yukon gold potatoes, scallions, eggs, flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

In a large nonstick skillet over high, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Reduce heat to medium and add 4 rounded 1/4-cup mounds of the potato mixture to the skillet, flattening each mound to a 31/2-inch circle. Cook latkes for 2 minutes, then turn them over and add another tablespoon of vegetable oil. Cook, turning them several times, until golden on both sides, about another 4-6 minutes total.

Transfer latkes to a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat the process with remaining potato mixture and oil. When all of the latkes have been browned, bake them on the middle shelf of the oven for 5 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Sprinkle lightly with salt, if desired. While latkes are baking, in a small bowl combine yogurt, chipotle, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Stir well.

To serve, arrange 2 latkes on each of 6 serving plates. Top with a dollop of chipotle yogurt and a cilantro leaf.

Nutrition information per serving: 280 calories; 130 calories from fat (46 percent of total calories); 15 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 60 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 7 g protein; 240 mg sodium.

Start to finish: 50 minutes / Servings: 6 (makes 12 latkes)

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