The key to preventing these stuffed latkes from falling apart is letting the underside brown thoroughly and crisp before you flip them. This way, they hold together through the flip and the sauce stays squarely in the middle. Some bits around the edges will inevitably fall off, but we just consider these gifts for the cook.
For the Filling:
1 pound (2-3 whole) apples
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (optional, for a sweeter sauce)
5 to 6 ounces Gouda or sharp cheddar cheese, diced small
For the Latkes:
2 pounds starchy potatoes, like Idaho
1 medium-sized onion, diced small
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons matzoh meal or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil or canola oil
Make the Filling:
Peel, core, and dice the apples into small chunks. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. When it stops foaming, add the apples and the salt, and toss to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. The apples should start softening into apple sauce, but retain a few scattered solid pieces.
Stir in the lemon juice and all the spices. Taste and add seasonings as desired. Transfer the apple sauce to a bowl and wipe the pan clean. Set both the apple sauce and the cheese near your stove.
Make the Stuffed Latkes:
Peel the potatoes and shred them using a box grater. Submerge the shredded potato in a bowl of cool water for five minutes. Drain and spread the potato slices on a clean dish towel. Roll up the towel and then twist it tightly to squeeze out as much of the water from the potatoes as possible. The drier the potatoes, the crisper the latkes will be.
Combine the dried potatoes with the onions in a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the eggs together and stir them into the potato-onion mixture until all the pieces are shiny and coated with egg. Sprinkle the salt and half the flour over the top of the mixture and stir to combine. Repeat with the remaining flour.
Warm 1 tablespoon of the oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers and flows smoothly, begin making the latkes.
Scoop about 1/4 cup of the potato mixture into the skillet and flatten into a 3-inch round. Place a spoonful of applesauce and a few cubes of cheese on top. Cover with another half-scoop of the potato mixture and flatten slightly. Repeat until your pan is full, but not crowded.
Cook the pancakes without moving them for about five minutes. You’ll see the edges begin to crisp and turn brown around the bottom. Flip the pancakes over and cook for another 3-5 minutes until this side is also browned.
Serve immediately with sour cream and any leftover apple sauce.
(Images: Emma Christensen)