Their tale of emigration from Russia, someday in the mid-20th century, is woven with equal components pathos and tales of divine intervention. There was one particular anecdote of a 90-calendar year-outdated great-grandmother, wrapped in a blanket or rug to be smuggled out of the nation. The customs guard assumed the rolled up cloth looked suspicious, and pierced it a couple times with his saber even though the family members stood in mute horror convinced that blood would start off seeping via at any minute.
By some unusual wonder, the saber had just skipped the girl and she lived to inform the tale in her new Brooklyn dwelling.
Whilst my mom’s family turned mainly secular, my mother’s cousins, devout followers of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a Ukraine-born rabbi who became chief of 1 of contemporary Judaism’s most vivid strains, the movement recognized as Chabad-Lubavitch, stuck to their faith and followed him to The united states. Together with their spiritual adherence, they held onto and preserved recipes and rituals of prior generations, which is how potato kugel came into my lifestyle.
It was in their household that I tasted my 1st potato kugel. It was at when common and novel, comforting and unique. My mother, upon obtaining her piece, exclaimed, “Oh, how long it is been considering the fact that I experienced this,” as I stared at her in disbelief.
If potato kugel was one thing my mother grew up with, how occur she had hardly ever created it for me?
Possibly, I considered, it was challenging to make or experienced scarce elements or was highly-priced.
Potato kugel — or any kugel for that issue — is a culinary kid of poverty and ingenuity. It normally takes a handful of humble, pedestrian components and refashions them into a comfort and ease food items that is at after deluxe and quotidian. It may not search like significantly, but appears to be like can be deceiving, and if potato kugel could discuss, it would spin an epic tale.
In his “Encyclopedia of Jewish Foods,” Gil Marks rates German poet and writer Heinrich Heine’s 1825 letter to the editor of a new German Jewish periodical, “Kugel, this holy nationwide dish, has performed much more for the preservation of Judaism than all 3 challenges of your magazine.”
Marks writes that kugel is originally of Ashkenazi origin, and belongs to a canon of teigachz (pudding), thought to have originated in Germany about 800 decades back, and from there, expanded across Eastern Europe. It seems that hundreds of years ago, kugels ended up steamed, normally atop a Shabbat stew, this kind of as cholent. As soon as residence ovens became typical in the mid-19th century, additional recipes for baked kugels appeared.
Potatoes, which turned preferred all over the mid-19th century, designed their way into kugel as an low-cost and filling starch, and eventually became common across impoverished shtetls. The ubiquity of potatoes — and potato kugel — even gave rise to an previous Yiddish song “Sunday potatoes, Monday potatoes, Tuesday and Wednesday potatoes, Thursday and Friday potatoes, but Shabbos, a novelty — a potato kugel!”
You might be additional familiar with sweet noodle kugels, studded with raisins or apples and flavored with cinnamon. During the 7 days of Passover, for the reason that noodles are deemed chametz (prohibited meals in the course of the holiday) in the course of the holiday, potato or matzoh kugels reign supreme, with the previous staying my all-time favored.
I like my potato kugels, which are naturally gluten-free, generously seasoned with absolutely nothing far more than salt and pepper. I have viewed some recipes working with garlic and onion powders, but I have not liked the flavor they impart to the concluded dish. Potatoes absorb a shocking sum of salt, so don’t worry you will overseason the dish, alternatively the reverse. When I am experience particularly fancy, I will caramelize my onions to fold into the potato combination (rather of introducing them raw), but it adds a different hour to the cooking time, which feels abnormal especially all over Passover when there are so several other dishes to put together.
Very best of all, potato kugel makes great leftovers, heat or cold. I’ve been recognised to take in it straight from the fridge initially point in the early morning, even ahead of I make my espresso. Or I may well grab a slice of it for lunch along with a gentle environmentally friendly salad. There aren’t a large amount of dishes that can carry out similarly as well for breakfast, lunch or meal, but potato kugel can do it all, and I hope you make a position for it at your Passover table.
When I asked my mom why she in no way designed kugel when I was expanding up, she replied: “I just sort of forgot about it, and having it in Brooklyn introduced again all these recollections of my childhood. I’m happy that you acquired to finally flavor it.”
Storage Notes: Leftover kugel can be refrigerated, lined, for up to 3 times. It does not freeze properly.
- 1/4 cup neutral oil, these kinds of as vegetable or grapeseed, or schmaltz, moreover more for greasing the dish (see NOTES)
- 5 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and rinsed
- 2 big yellow onions (1 1/2 lbs . overall), halved
- 6 huge eggs
- 1/4 cup (scant 1 1/2 ounces/45 grams) potato starch (see NOTES)
- 1 tablespoon furthermore 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly floor black pepper
- Chopped new chives, for garnish (optional)
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Generously grease the base and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with oil.
Using a food processor equipped with a coarse shredding disk, grate the potatoes and onions. (You may well have to have to slice the two into huge chunks to in shape them into the opening.) Eliminate the food processor lid and decide out any stray chunks of potato and/or onion that could not have gotten shredded and preserve them for another use. (Alternatively, you can grate the potatoes and onions on the coarse facet of a box grater.)
Transfer the veggies to a big colander. Performing in batches, transfer some of the potato-onion mixture to a big piece of cheesecloth established around a cutting board, and wring out excessive liquid into a medium bowl. Transfer the wrung out vegetables to a significant bowl and repeat with the remaining potatoes and onions.
Enable the squeezed out liquid sit undisturbed until eventually the starch settles in the base of the bowl. Then, gently tilt the bowl with the potato liquid to drain out the h2o you really should see a white layer of potato starch at the bottom.
In the bowl with the residual potato starch, increase the eggs, the supplemental potato starch, oil, salt and pepper, and whisk. Increase the mixture to the shredded vegetables and, working with your arms, stir properly to completely blend.
Area the well prepared baking dish in the oven for about 10 minutes. Very carefully take out the dish from the oven and spoon the kugel combination into it — the mixture must sizzle on call. Carefully pat the mixture so it’s evenly dispersed and return the dish to the oven. Bake for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, or right until the kugel is deep golden brown on top and bubbling in destinations.
Permit the kugel neat for a few minutes, then sprinkle with chives, if applying, and cut. Serve, employing a metallic spatula for least difficult portioning.
NOTES: For the duration of Passover, observant Ashkenazi Jews prevent canola, soybean, sunflower, peanut and corn among other oils that are regarded kitniyot — a class of foodstuff limited for the duration of the holiday. Neutral oils these kinds of as safflower and grapeseed can be utilized. Olive oil is also permitted on Passover, but its flavor could possibly be way too sturdy listed here.
If not serving for Passover, you can use cornstarch in location of potato starch.
If making use of schmaltz in position of oil, in holding with the Jewish legal guidelines of kashrut, serve the kugel only with dishes that do not incorporate dairy.
Calories: 310 Overall Extra fat: 9 g Saturated Extra fat: 1 g Cholesterol: 112 mg Sodium: 505 mg Carbs: 51 g Nutritional Fiber: 4 g Sugar: 4 g Protein: 9 g.
Recipe from food writer Olga Massov.
Scale and get a printer-pleasant variation of the recipe in this article.