So I’ll go out on a limb here, and let you all know, that I’m pretty much a pro at potato kugel. I know that’s a pretty brash statement right there, but I’ve been making potato kugel since I was about 13 years old. It was really the first step into my decent of food madness. However, it’s been 2 plus years on this here blog, and not one mention of potato kugel? No recipe? Nothing!? Well for some reason, my potato kugel is very hard to give over. I never had a recipe, and kind of am at the point where I make the kugel by feel. So why the change of heart? Why am I all of a sudden writing up a post on potato kugel? Well to be honest, this month’s kosher LinkUp theme is root vegetables, and I’ve been super busy lately, and really haven’t had the time to take pictures and write up a post, so I figured, I’d be making the potato kugel anyway for Shabbos, so like everything else in my life, I’d be able to kill two birds with one stone, and half ass it, awesome! I can already hear you in the background rolling your eyes, but fear not, I’ll be back with some quality posts once I can get my life in order…so in like 15 years give or take.
One of the nice things about not being consistent when making kugel, is that every week is a surprise as to how it will come out. Will it be too salty? Too garlicky? (which as my Hungarian compadres will know, is not really a thing) Too peppery? You get the gist. And another thing is, over the years I’ve tried different things. Different ingredients, different techniques, etc, but one thing that hasn’t changed – I grate the potatoes by hand. Yeah, call me old fashioned, but I can tell the difference between a potato kugel made by hand, and one made by machine. Now that’s not to say if it’s made by machine it won’t be good, but here at casa del Fogel we like our potato kugel to be just slightly chunky, not like a puree, and there’s no way you can get that with a machine.
All right, so let’s start with some potatoes shall we? I like to peel them and to prevent them from browning I keep them submerged in water. If I have my act together (which if you haven’t caught on yet, is never) I would actually put it in the fridge over night, because that’s how Bobby (ie – my grandmother) did it, and it also makes sense, a colder potato takes longer to brown, and while a browned potato will still make a good potato kugel, it’s still something I try to avoid.
Next thing up is the grater. Of course you can’t just use a normal box grater because that would just be too normal, you have to use one of these types of graters, which you can only buy from an old women on the side of the road somewhere in rural Hungary. This is the grater I’ve used every time (well almost, more on that in a bit) for the 16 plus years I’ve been making it.
So grate your potatoes (which by the way, would be a great idiom…I’m not sure for what, but I can totally imagine someone saying: “..and by the way, don’t forget to grate your potatoes”…it has a nice ring to it…but I digress) and you really want to work fast here (so it doesn’t brown), which can be a little tricky if it’s your first attempt at using one of those graters.
Look at that consistency, it’s not too mushy, not too chunky…just right
To be honest, up until recently I used garlic and onion powder, because that’s how Bobby does it, but the good food maniac (I’m trying to think of another word other than foodie, which I hate) I am, just couldn’t let it continue. So I grate an onion, and mince some fresh garlic in there, and it’s really stepped up the kugel in the past few months. However, another thing the onion might do is since it’s acidic, it prevents the potatoes from browning also, but that’s just an educated guess on my part.
Now for the piece de resistance. Before I start grating, I pre-heat the oven, and put the pan in there with some oil. I let it heat up, and when I’m done with all the grating, and adding my salt and pepper, I take the scalding hot oil out of the oven, and pour it over the spices (I make sure the pepper and garlic are on top), which allows them to bloom, and it sizzles, so that’s pretty awesome. Once that’s all mixed, I add my eggs. It’s hard to tell you how many eggs because most of the time I’m not sure myself. I would tell you 1 egg per pound of potato, but that’s not a hard fast rule. Eggs will help bind everything, and keep it more solid, but it will also add to the browning of the crust (as will the oil).
Anyway, I cook the potato kugel at 350 degrees until it’s ready, about 1.5-2 hours, depending on size, and type of pan you use, but you’ll know it’s ready when your house smells like Shabbos, and there’s a nice brown crust on the top. My favorite type of pan for the kugel is a glazed ceramic souffle pan, which gives a lot of interior, and makes a nice crust (because of the heat retention capabilities of the ceramic), but it is a little big for just the wife and I.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got for now. Oh, one more thing – I did mention that I would mention something about using the grater every time. Well to be perfectly honest, one acceptable alternative in our family is the Braun Food processor, using the “e” blade. I’ve used it if I was making a whole lot of potato kugels (like the 6 pans that I made for Daniella’s kiddush). But to be really honest, it’s good, but it’s just not the same.
Now for all of you not convinced, I openly invite/challenge you to come by any Shabbos and taste my kugel, and tell me that you can’t taste the difference. Now that’s brash right there.
As like last time – this is all part of the Kosher Connection LinkUp, with the theme of Root vegetables, and since I know you want to check out what other slightly more normal people have to say about that topic, and since you probably want something just a little more exciting than plain ole’ potato kugel, click on that little frog mentschey (man, I cannot tell you how long I’ve wanted to use the word mentschey in a post…normally mentschey is strictly used for lego men, but we’ve extended it to this guy…it’s a pretty great day)…so go ahead click on it.
We’ll assume you’re making kugel for a standar d Shabbos meal, for like 6-8 people, but you can obviously scale the recipe up/down for your needs
- Potatoes (2.5 pounds), peeled
- 3-4 tablespoons oil
- 1 small-medium onion
- 2 tablespoons salt (total guess on that one)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons black pepper (also a guess, and for the love of all that’s sacred, use freshly grated black pepper, it’s really not that hard to find, and unless you like the taste of saw dust, it really makes a difference)
- 3 eggs
- Preheat oven to 350, and when oven’s hot, add your oil to your pan, and heat up in the oven
- Peel potatoes, and place in water (if you want to do this the night before, place potatoes in fridge, in water)
- Grate potatoes and onions. Add salt, minced garlic, and pepper (making sure the pepper and garlic are on top)
- Being careful not to burn yourself (my lawyers told me I had to say that), pour oil over top of the potato mixture, let it sizzle, and mix it through
- Once cooled, add your eggs, and mix until incorporated
- Add to pan (if the pan has good heat retention [like a ceramic one, and not like an aluminum one] you should start to hear the kugel sizzle as it hits the pan).
- Bake for about 1.5-2 hours, or until it’s nice and brown and delicious (well maybe wait a little to decide for yourself how delicious it is, because it’s probably going to be hot)