Sunday, October 5, 2008

The art of the Kugel

It's the holidays, the high holidays, and every year I have a few people over for some traditional food on the eve of Rosh Hoshanah. I started this years ago when I was feeling homesick. Miss Kate loaned me her kitchen and the rest is history. Every year I say to myself "well, it's so expensive and time-consuming, should I do it again this year?" And then I talk myself into it.

In this post, I'm going to address the art of the potato kugel which is a labor intensive but awesome little dish. There are many kugels in the world but I use the recipe that my mother gave me. What's so annoying about it is the grating of the potatoes. Now, one year I used pre-shredded potatoes but I guess they add some chemical to keep it from turning a funny color (and boy, do potatoes turn funny colors) so that was weird. My mother uses a food processor but the texture is just not the same.

So, I peel and grate 7 pounds of potatoes. Peeling has become easier once I purchased a fancy schmancy tool. But the grating is done on a handheld grater and inevitably I tear up one of my knuckles. The truly evil thing I realized after grating the potatoes is that I have to grate a couple onions and after receiving said knuckle wound, it's pretty miserable -- not to mention all the crying. However, this year, I heard that if you put onions in the freezer, it will not be a tear fest. I am happy to report to you, dear readers, that this is the case. No tears!! I highly recommend it.

So after all the grating, I squeeze out all the liquid from the potatoes. I find it easier to do this by hand, but I suppose cheesecloth would work well, too. Then I mix it all together with a little flour, a couple eggs, a little baking powder, salt and oil. That's it. I am always amused that two eggs and 1/4 cup of flour holds this baby together. It's all potatoes!!!

The secret, however, is in the baking. I get my casserole dishes and put a little vegetable oil in the bottom and stick them in the hot oven. After a couple minutes, I pull them out and spoon in potato mixture. It sizzles and, once it's done cooking, there is a wonderful crust all around the kugel. Serve with sour cream (my favorite) or applesauce (my sister's favorite).

I'll put the full recipe up if anybody wants it, but, seriously, are you going to do all that work?


Cranky Yankee said...

The onions juice in the wound will keep it from becoming infected.

K. A. Laity said...

No, no -- the secret is the blood from the scraped knuckle! We can tell when it's not there. The flavor is just not the same!

The Queen said...

I have a couple o' tips: use a food processor for both the potatoes & the onions. But only if you don't use starchy potatoes for the kugel.
Also, don't cut the root of the onion- that's the tear-inducing bit!
But like Kate mentioned, the bloody knuckle juice may be the flavor enhancer....

Iron Chef Willimantic