This recipe was created by chef Todd Ginsberg of Atlanta restaurant The General Muir. Applesauce is a classic topping for potato pancakes, but all sorts of flavors pair wonderfully with fried potatoes, including this creative topping of smoked salmon with herbed sour cream. This simple but elegant recipe would be right at home at a Hanukkah gathering but it would also work for a cocktail party or a special breakfast or brunch. Ginsberg uses fresh chives, tarragon, and parsley that have been pureed in a blender in his sour cream sauce. To preserve the bright color and flavor of the herbs, he blanches them in boiling water with a bit of baking soda and salt for a few minutes, then immediately transfers the herbs to an ice bath to shock them. Our Test Kitchen raved about the dish, saying, “The herbed sour cream is light, refreshing, balanced, and the perfect accompaniment to the crispy latkes and salty smoked fish.” Ginsberg prefers frying latkes in clarified butter, but this recipe will work just as well with canola or vegetable oil. If you're cooking latkes for a crowd, you might get overwhelmed making them to order. This recipe is easy to make in advance. Simply cook the latkes up to 4 hours ahead of time, and don't refrigerate. A half hour before serving, crisp up the latkes on the griddle and then transfer them to a baking sheet with a thin layer of clarified butter on the bottom. Place them in a 400˚F oven for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 bunch each of fresh chives, tarragon, and parsley
1 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
8 ounces sliced smoked salmon
Fresh tarragon sprigs (optional)
6 large russet potatoes, peeled and grated (about 5 lb.)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath.
Prepare the Topping: Add baking soda and 1 teaspoon of the salt to boiling water. Add herbs, and cook until very soft, 3 to 5 minutes. (A parsley leaf rubbed between 2 fingers should disintegrate.) Using a slotted spoon, remove herbs, and immediately plunge into ice bath; let stand until cold.
Remove herbs from ice bath, and let excess water drip off. Place in a blender or food processor, and process until very smooth. Pour through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl to strain off excess liquid. Discard liquid.
Stir together blended herbs, sour cream, pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl until combined. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with fleur de sel.
Prepare the Latkes: Rinse grated potatoes in a colander with hot water. (Hot water will act as a blanch to prevent discoloration.) Drain and squeeze the potatoes to remove as much excess liquid as possible.
Place potatoes, onion, and eggs in a bowl, and stir to combine. Stir together flour and salt in a small bowl until combined; gradually add to potato mixture, stirring until combined.
Heat Clarified Butter in a large skillet or on an electric griddle over medium-high. Drop 6 to 8 loosely packed 1/4 cupfuls of potato mixture into hot butter; press lightly with a spatula to flatten into 3-inch rounds.
Reduce temperature to medium, and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place on a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with pepper. Serve Potato Latkes topped with smoked salmon, herbed sour cream, and tarragon sprigs, if desired.