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How to Make Traditional Yiddish Potato Kugel

Potato Kugel is a traditional Yiddish dish that wasn’t originally made with potatoes at all. It started as a pudding, really, made with noodles, bread dumplings and rice.

Those who have made kugel before probably baked it in an oven, but this dish started as a steamed food, mostly because ovens weren’t widely available in the areas where this dish first got its start.

The modern day version of the kugel is a baked casserole, though, made with potatoes more often than anything else. A lot of Jewish families make it for Passover, and it is popular among German and Polish communities.

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I want to share some of my favourite recipe for potato kugel with you, and you can decide which one you want to try first. This savoury dish is very filling, since it is made with plenty of potato, but it can be a great dish to serve alongside meats of any kind, as well as a salad or cooked vegetables.

How easy is potato kugel to make? I don’t think it is difficult, but it can take a while. You have some prep work to do for this dish, but it is definitely worth the effort, since it is sure to please most people in the family. It uses simple foods and makes for a hearty meal, so it’s sure to be a crowd pleaser whenever you bake it.

Potato Kugel Passover Recipe

Like I said, the kugel is traditionally a Jewish dish cooked for Passover, so a recipe that incorporates traditional Passover components is the one I will start with. While there are variations, most potato kugel recipes for Passover will be similar to this one.

Potato Kugel
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Potato Kugel Passover Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 onions
  • 10 medium potatoes (about 4 pounds)
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil or melted chicken schmaltz
  • 1 tsp of ground white pepper
  • Chopped chives and parsley
  • 1 ½ tbsp of kosher salt

Instructions

  • Peel and quarter your onions and potatoes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Use a grater or food processor to shred onions and potatoes. Traditionally, these are grated, but either way works fine. The texture and size of the bits will differ based on which option you use. If you are using a food processor, you will likely have to shred the veggies in batches, because there is so much of them. Do not overload the food processor.
  • Place the potatoes and onions in a cheesecloth and wrap tight like a tourniquet. Squeeze the liquid from them and set that liquid aside. Do not discard it. The onions and potatoes should be moved to a clean bowl, and you will have to do this process a few times to squeeze out all the liquid from the entirety of the veggies. Your cheesecloth may tear occasionally, and if it does, you cannot use it as a tourniquet any longer. Just replace it with another piece and continue.
  • Pour the liquid off but keep the starch back. Allow the liquid to settle for a few minutes and then pour out the liquid, saving the potato starch and setting it aside.
  • Next, place the eggs and egg whites in a mixing bowl and beat. Use the whisk attachment on an electronic mixer or beat by hand with a whisk. Beat the eggs on a medium-high speed until their color becomes lighter and the volume is doubled. This should take about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add to the eggs the potato starch, salt, pepper, ¼ cup of the schmaltz, and baking powder. Combine all of that and then add in the potatoes and onions, mixing lightly.
  • Grease a baking dish (9x13 is ideal) and let it warm in the oven. You can grease it with two tablespoons of schmaltz or oil if you like. It should be preheated for about five minutes.
  • Pour your kugel mixture into the baking dish and level it out without pressing down. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown. You can check the internal temperature of the kugel to see if it is cooked. It should read 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The last step involves broiling the kugel, and you need to turn on your broiler to high for this. Broil for about 2-3 minutes, and the top should become a rich, brown color. Then, remove the kugel from the broiler and cut into slices, garnishing with your chives and parsley.
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Recipe Modifications

You can make this completely vegetarian if you want, and most potato vegetable kugel recipes for Passover call for vegetable oil instead of melted chicken schmaltz. The substitution is easy. You can use a 1:1 ratio substitution, and the end result has the same texture, with a different taste, of course.

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Can you make potato Kugel completely vegan? You would have to get rid of the eggs, which hold the casserole together. If you do, you won’t be using traditional recipes for Jewish holiday potato kugel, but I suppose you already know that. Fortunately, there are tons of great substitutions for eggs.

You could use applesauce, yogurt, mashed bananas, buttermilk, arrowroot powder, and tons of other items. Most of these will change the texture or taste of the kugel, though, and if you want those characteristics to stay as much the same as possible, then suggest using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda an egg replacer.

Neither of these should affect the taste or texture of the food as much as the other substitutions, so they are the safest ones to use in this instance.

Storing Your Kugel

After you bake the kugel, you will need to wait to store it until it has cooled fully. Then, it can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container. The kugel will stay safe to eat for up to four days when stored properly. It reheats well in the microwave, but you can warm leftovers item oven as well.

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Can You Substitute the Potatoes?

If you don’t want to go through all the work of cutting, cleaning and grating (or processing) potatoes, there are some substitutions you can use. I don’t recommend using instant mashed potatoes or any potato powder substitute. Those can give you a similar flavour to the potato kugel recipe, but they drastically alter the texture, and you don’t get that crispiness the fresh potatoes provide. If you want to keep it the dish as a potato kugel but forgo fresh potatoes, you can use hash browns. Just divide them up into small pieces and cook the same way you would the regular potato kugel.

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Of course, there are other foods you can make kugel with. I mentioned some of those earlier, and many people use white rice, brown rice, or pasta noodles for this recipe. The best kind of noodles to use for this recipe are flat noodles, like alfredo or lasagna noodles.

Written by Pauline

I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!

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