Potato kugel is such a classic Ashkenazi holiday and Shabbat dish, but I never grew up eating it. We had sweet and savory noodle kugels at my grandmothers house on Rosh Hashanah, but it wasn’t until I started dating my now-husband that I tasted and fell in love with potato kugel during the first Sukkot I spent with his family.
It wasn’t just any potato kugel, it was his grandmother’s potato kugel, Baba Billie of blessed memory. I ate my weight in rich brisket and kugels that holiday and learned my lesson about moderation of Ashkenazi food, no matter how delicious it may be. I still have flashbacks of that stomach ache.
I cannot take any credit for this recipe, it is one hundred and ten percent Baba Billie, and my husband who has worked to recreate the dish and write it down. I hope it will bring other kugel-less homes as much joy as it has brought mine.
Don’t get scared about the amount of oil in this dish, just embrace it. This is the kind of kugel you make only a few times during the year, and if you cut out the oil, it just won’t be the same.
8 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and coarsely shredded
2 medium-large onions, coarsely shredded
5 large eggs
¾ cup matzo meal
½ Tbsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
Paprika for sprinkling
Thick sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. When oven is preheated, add 1/3 cup olive oil to a 9×13 pyrex dish and put into the oven to heat up.
Whisk eggs together in a large bowl. Add shredded potato, onion, matzo meal, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix until combined.
When oil has been heating about 10 minutes, remove from oven. Add a small spoonful of the potato mixture and if it starts sizzling, it is hot enough. If not, put it back in the oven for a few minutes.
When oil is ready, add the entire potato mixture and spread in a even layer using an offset spatula or large spoon.
Sprinkle sweet or hot paprika on top and a sprinkle of thick sea salt.
Bake for 40-50 minutes until crispy around the edges and golden brown on top.
Allow to cool slightly before cutting into squares. Serve warm or room temperature.
Pronounced: AHSH-ken-AH-zee, Origin: Hebrew, Jews of Central and Eastern European origin.
Prounounced: KOO-gull (oo as in book), Origin: Yiddish, traditional Ashkenazi casserole frequently made with egg noodles or potatoes.
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.