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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Teddy's Potato Kugel

How do we even go about defining what "Kugel" is? Well I am going to borrow from the entry in Wikipedia for this, and if you like you can read their full entry on Kugel here.

Kugel (Yiddish: kugl pronounced koogel or kigel {being that the "u" takes on an "i" sound in eastern european Yiddish}, also often referred to in the diminutive kugele, kigele) is any one of a wide variety of traditional baked Jewish side dishes or desserts. It is sometimes translated as "pudding" or "casserole".

Kugels may be sweet or savory (salty). The most common types are made from egg noodles or potatoes and often contain eggs, but there are recipes in everyday use in modern Jewish kitchens for a great diversity of kugels made with different vegetables, fruit, batters, cheese, and other flavorings and toppings. Kugel-making seems to be continually changing and evolving.
There are indeed noodle kugels, potato kugels, carrot kugels, veggie kugels - you name it kugels. So what makes a dish a Kugel?

Well lets go back for a moment to Wikipedia.
The first kugels were made from bread and flour and were savory rather than sweet. About 800 years ago, their flavor and popularity improved when cooks in Germany replaced bread mixtures with noodles or farfel. Eventually eggs were incorporated. The addition of cottage cheese and milk created a custard-like consistency which is common in today's dessert dishes.

In the 17th century, sugar was introduced, giving home cooks the option of serving kugel as a sweet side dish or dessert. In Poland, Jewish homemakers sprinkled raisins and cinnamon into noodle kugel recipes. Hungarians took the dessert concept further with a hefty helping of sugar and some sour cream. In the late 19th century, Jerusalemites combined caramelized sugar and black pepper in a noodle kugel known as "Jerusalem kugel."
And of course, no article on Kugel would be complete without mention the "Yerushalmi Kugel" or in English the "Jerusalem Kugel". (I will give a recipe for this in a few days as well. And let me tell you there is nothing to match a real Yerushalmi Kugel. NOTHING!)

Back to our Potato Kugel. We did give a recipe for potato kugel here in Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen, with the post, Grandma (Bubby) Sarah's Potato Kugel, but now we will make a few changes into that recipe. Not that Grandma (Bubby) Sarah's Potato Kugel is bad. It is very good and actually is a great recipe. And there is no way I am going to mess with any Grandmother who is doing the cooking. That is just not a healthy practice for anyone that wants to keep their head on their shoulders.

One thing many of the recipes from the old world call for, especially for Passover, is eggs and more eggs. This is something I try to watch out for. First of all because too many eggs are simply really not healthy. Second, many people, including moi, get sick in the stomach with too many eggs in various foods. Third, we also want to avoid the "egg" taste. Potato Kugel should be Potato Kugel - not Egg Kugel with some Potatoes thrown in.

Now, when I made the Kugel for the Seder on Passover, I admit I was really worried. I was positive it would come out real bad or just taste really bleh! My kids are very harsh taskmasters and if they do not like something - they tell me straight out. My fragile ego could not handle a bad Potato Kugel!

What makes it worse is that on Passover you really do not have much of an option for a side dish if you are not of Sephardi or Yemenite Background where they eat all types of beans and rice which those of Ashkenazi background do not eat. So if those Kugels did not come out - my tushy was cooked.

So here we go with Teddy's Potato Kugel - which I might add, was totally completely eaten. No change. Nada. Zilch. Gone. But remember this is a Kugel made for Passover. Without limitations of Passover, well lots of stuff can be added!

Teddy's Potato Kugel



Since with this recipe I work from "instinct" the recipe below will produce the two pans shown above. Which is really a great deal of Kugel! Enough for like 10 people (if they don't gorge themselves on it!)

Utensils Needed:
  1. Potato Peeler
  2. Food Processor or really strong arms and hands to cut the potatoes into really small slivers (hand grinder etc. are good if you have strong arm muscles)
  3. Cooking pan or aluminum foil pans to hold the Kugel.
  4. Mixing Bowl
Ingredients:
  1. 10-12 nice Potatoes (Idaho Potatoes) Medium to large size
  2. 3-4 Onions (Medium sized)
  3. 1 Fresh Garlic totally ground - In a real pinch you can use garlic powder.
  4. 4-5 Eggs (remember go easy on the eggs)
  5. 1.5 cups of either Bread Meal (Crumbs) or Matzah Meal (Passover is obviously Matzah Meal) - Easily purchased in the Supermarket.
  6. Black Pepper
  7. If you are adventurous - White Pepper
  8. Salt
  9. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Directions:
  1. First you have to peel those potatoes! (UGH!)
  2. Peel the onions.
  3. If you are using a food processor then feed them into the processor. If you are using a hand grater go grate away!
  4. Put the Potatoes and Onions in a mixing bowl and make sure everything is mixed evenly.
  5. Now put the eggs inside - and as I have said again and again mix thoroughly, and if you are going to use your hands to mix (which is the best way) - WASH THEM FIRST!
  6. Now get the bread or matzah meal in the batter and mix that in very very thoroughly. (You should not see any bread or matzah meal when you are done mixing.)
  7. For this amount of Kugel add 2-3 Tablespoons of salt - DO NOT OVERDUE SALT. Remember anyone who wants more salt can add it to the finished product!
  8. 1 to 1.5 Tablespoons of Black Pepper
  9. 1 Teaspoon of White Pepper
  10. Mix again totally and completely.
  11. Sprinkle evenly that olive oil on the bottom of the pan. Don't be stingy with it but do not overdue it either. Too much oil is yuck. But the olive oil in this case will give it a really great taste as well.
  12. Now lay out the batter evenly in the pans. Even means even. No bumps. It should cover the pan and go 1/4 - 1/2 deep in the pan (though 1/4 is better)
  13. Preheat your oven to 200° Celsius (approx. 380° Fahrenheit).
  14. Place the pans in the oven - COVERED - for 90 minutes. (Cover with foil)
  15. Take a look at the Kugel. It should now be cooked (for the most part). Don't overcook it and obviously the amount of time in the oven also has to do with the size of your pan and the depth of the Kugel in the pan. Remember, more depth, slower and longer cooking.
  16. Do not be tempted to do this fast. It will just cook the Kugel unevenly.
  17. Now put the Kugel back in for another 15 minutes and take off the foil covering. You want the top to look cooked and brown NOT burned.



The trick to Kugel is to cook it evenly and correctly. Not to fast, not to slow and to give it a golden hue on top. Also you can obviously play with this (which is how other Kugels are made). You can add veggies, like Broccoli or Carrots into the Potatoes. You can add other spices. I will do these recipes for you soon. As for Yerushalmi Kugel... soon.. we will reveal that mystery to all you readers as well. Meanwhile enjoy the Potato Kugel. And if you add something really Yummy to the recipe - let us all know!

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4 Fire Comments - Click To Post A Comment:

tnsmith77 said...

I am new to blogging and I am happy that I found yours! As an consistent watcher of the food network I LOVE to cook. I'll definitely be back by to check out your recipes!

Kali said...

why peel the 'taters? with good idaho potatoes, if you scrub them well then grate them, you get some extra fiber and nutrition with your taters!

unless you're making some fancy french "pomme de terre a la duchesse", i haven't found a single potato recipe that can't be done with "skins-on" potatoes!

potatoes are a very rich source of potassium, and the skins have other vitamins and minerals as well as fiber, so why not use them if possible?

p.s. i don't peel carrots anymore either, just scrub them well and chop/slice/dice/grate as needed.

Ted W. Gross said...

Putting this comment in for Nance from Writing Late In The Game per her request.

I do want to thank you for the wonderful Potato Kugel recipe which I just discovered on your delightful blogsite.

When I was in college (in 1953....now you know my age), I had a dear roommate....actually three suitemates, too..........who were Jewish (I'm a gentile). My immediate roommate, Sandy, invited me to her home for a weekend several times. Her Mom was kind enough to ask what I wanted to eat. I replied, "Anything that is entirely Jewish....anything you feed your own family....don't fuss....just some authentic Jewish dishes."

So I sat down to one of the most memorable meals of my life including some potato kugel that was to die for. Years later I wanted to cook it, but couldn't find a good recipe for it. Many people would know about noodle kugel, but not about potato kugel. Now you've supplied the recipe that I will finally try for the first time in 50 years. Thanks!

Nance (also know in my Blog site as "Always Question")- Blog Writing Late In The Game

Anonymous said...

I definitely want to read more soon. By the way, rather good design your blog has, but what do you think about changing it every few months?