The Potato Kugel is one of those traditional side dishes of eastern European heritage, that’s designed to be the perfect sponge for jus from your roast beef or roast chicken, or whenever you want something a little dressier than plain roasted or mashed potatoes. Something that says, “I cared enough about you to scrape my fingers to the bone, grating all these damned potatoes.” Of course, with today’s food processors, you don’t have to be quite so literal. Still, a holiday just wouldn’t be a holiday in my family without a square or two of this dense, but delicious and satisfying, accompaniment at one of your celebratory meals.
You may be surprised to learn that, for Jewish people, the “Holiday Season” has already begun. It starts with the Jewish New Year, continues through Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and now – having sufficiently atoned for any offenses (both real and imagined) in the previous year – on to the celebration of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). Sukkot is a harvest holiday, akin to Thanksgiving, and if you have the space, you build a temporary kind of a lean-to in your yard through which you can see the sky, and you eat as many of your meals as you can there, during the week of the holiday.
Traditional Potato Kugel
- 2-1/2 to 3 lbs. potatoes (Russets, golds or whites)
- 1 medium onion
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup matzo meal
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil (any)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Peel the potatoes and onion and cut into small chunks.
Using a large-capacity food processor (minimum 11 cups) fitted with the metal blade, feed the potatoes and onions into the running processor, a few chunks at a time, until smooth. Give it a few pulses from time to time if you see any stubborn chunks.
Add the eggs and process until well blended.
Add the matzo meal and salt and process for a few more seconds until well blended.
Pour the oil into a 9″ x 13″ oven-proof glass baking dish and place the dish into the oven for about 10 minutes, or until you can see the hot oil shimmer.
Carefully remove the dish from the oven, and even more carefully, pour the potato batter into the hot oil. Using a large spoon or spatula, smooth and even out the top of the batter, gently pushing it into the corners and smoothing the hot oil over the top, as well.
Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until the top, bottom, and sides of the kugel are a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow the kugel to rest for about 5-10 minutes before cutting into squares.
If possible, use a clear baking dish. It will allow you to see all sides of the kugel to check for color and doneness.
You can easily cut this recipe in half. Use a 9″ x 9″ baking dish and only 1/4 cup of the oil.
Do not try to substitute cooking spray for the oil. You can’t get it hot enough without burning, and your kugel just won’t look or taste as good. In for a penny, in for a pound!
While potato kugel may not necessarily be traditional for Sukkot, it is perfectly suitable for just about every Jewish holiday on the calendar – even Passover – so keep the recipe handy and you’ll never be at a loss for an appropriate side.