Traditions Continued – The Recipe

Last week, I wrote about making potato kugel and how it has become a tradition that I got from my mother-in-law (z”l, of blessed memory) who, I am sure, got it from her mother. As I was making it, I wondered if the day would come that my daughters and daughters-in-law (and sons and sons-in-law) would make it for their own children some day.

As it was in my mother-in-law’s house, it has become a standard in my home. A Friday afternoon treat everyone loves. Elie likes the crust and so has declared the corner piece (of an oval bowl) to be “his.” Davidi has been known to munch on it each time he passes it until I suddenly discover that, along with others taking a normal piece, half the kugel is gone.

I didn’t post the recipe, though I did put in a picture (repeated here). I thought about posting the recipe, but when I post one, I like to try to make it as accurate as possible and this recipe is one of those – “a little bit of this, a little bit of that” type of ones that I hate to write about because I feel guilty that it isn’t more accurate. I can tell you what I do, but it’s so much a matter of how big the potatoes are, how many eggs, how much salt…but I’ll try.

So – to make a nice size potato kugel, here’s what I do:

  1. Peel and soak about 12 large red potatoes (red skin, not sweet potatoes). You can use other types, but there really is a difference and if you can, use the red ones. You only need to soak them in water while peeling. 
  2. Grate the potatoes – yeah, by hand. I’ve tried machine – it just isn’t as good. Grate it by hand one time – if you can see the consistency and match it, please let me know!
  3. As you are grating the last potato – take about 1 cup of oil (I use canola) and heat it to the point where if you were to drop water, it would sizzle/splash.
  4. After you finished grating, pour the very hot oil over the potatoes – this bleaches them if they began to turn colors.
  5. Mix the oil into the grated potatoes.
  6. Beat (about) 8 Israeli large eggs (probably 7 American medium eggs) in a separate bowl (you can do this before you grate the potatoes also).
  7. Mix the eggs into the potato/oil mixture and add salt. I can’t tell you how much – probably about a teaspoon, but it could be more. My mother-in-law always tasted the mixture and added salt until it tasted right – not too salty, but not bland. I know you shouldn’t do this – it’s eating raw egg and raw potato. And yes, I do it too. And it works…if you don’t want to – I guess add a bit over a teaspoon and see what happens – if the kugel isn’t salty enough – add more the next time? Sorry…
  8. Pour the mixture into a deep dish – I use a large Pyrex pan that works great and cleans like a dream. My mother-in-law used a special metal pot with no plastic handles. Aluminum foil pans work too – so this is not a big deal.
  9. Bake it in a very hot oven for about 1.75 hours – my mother-in-law would tell me that initially the oven should be very hot (probably 200 C or 400 F) for about a half an hour – this gets the outside crust going; then lower it to 180 C or 350 F) for another hour and a bit. 
  10. Close the oven (turn it off) and let the kugel sit for about 10 minutes.
If you are warming it for holidays or Shabbat – I can tell you that it is very dense and takes a long time to warm enough. Eating it out of the oven (give it time to cool some because it is very hot) is always best.
My mother-in-law used to take the left-over kugel, slice it and then fry it. Reheating it in a regular oven dries it out – however with microwaves today, you really can reheat it for days after and it is still wonderful. Please, please, write to me and let me know if you make it and if you like it!

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