Photo credit: Emanuelle Lee

Yapchik (Potato Kugel With Meat) Recipe

Your kugel just got an upgrade.

Yapchik is made up of two layers of golden, crispy potato cake — very similar to a potato kugel — that sandwich a layer of meat. As the fall days get colder, it will welcome you and your guests home like a hug, and warm you up from the inside out. Yapchik has been referred to as a “Hungarian cholent” because it is traditionally cooked in the oven overnight and, while my recipe is a faster version, I have included instructions below for how to do this. 

Developing this recipe made me feel closer to the Hungarian grandfather I never knew, and brought back memories of the cooking my paternal grandmother spoiled me with as a kid. She celebrated family by always making sure each family member’s favorite dish was available to them — it’s amazing to think of how much work she put into every family meal. Her cooking methods were unorthodox. Like most Jewish grandmothers, she had an innate sense of what her food needed, despite there being no recipe or measurement in sight.

I like the idea that my two grandparents from different sides of the world — one from Hungary and the other from Britain — who would have dined on very different cuisines would have been able to connect over the flavors of this hybrid dish. I think of them both as the yapchik bubbles and crisps, filling the air of my little apartment with its hearty aroma. 

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potato kugel recipe jewish ashkenazi Yapchik shabbat
Photo credit Emanuelle Lee

Yapchik (Potato Kugel With Meat) Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4 from 2 reviews

Whether you know it as Hungarian cholent or simply the best potato kugel ever, this dish will warm you from the inside out.

  • Total Time: 4-8 hours
  • Yield: Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 2 medium white onions, very finely chopped
  • 8 large russet potatoes
  • 1 lb flanken or beef stew meat, cut into small cubes
  • 6 eggs
  • ¾ cup + 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 Tbsp Telma onion soup powder (can substitute onion soup mix or onion salt)
  • salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F
  2. Season the meat with a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan and sear the meat on all sides. Set aside and leave to cool slightly. This stage is optional but adds a lot of flavor to the dish.
  3. Peel the potatoes and shred them with on the larger side of a grater or on the grate blade of a food processor. 
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, ¾ cup olive oil, water and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the grated potato, finely chopped onions and onion soup powder. Mix well. 
  5. Pour half the mixture into an oval or rectangular baking dish (approx. 9×12 inch), top with the seared meat, then add the second half of the potato mixture. 
  6. Bake for 3 hours uncovered. 
  7. For the overnight version: Repeat steps 1-5. Bake at 400°F for 40 minutes uncovered, then reduce the temperature to 190°F and tightly cover the dish with aluminium foil. Bake for another 6-8 hours. If you want the top to be crispy, bake uncovered for the last hour of baking. 
  • Author: Emanuelle Lee
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3-8 hours 40 minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Ashkenazi

13 comments

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Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

  • Terri Suha Massa

    I like the recipe, but the cooking time is off. I meant to check it after two hours, because three seemed too long, but got busy. The top was very burned. It’s very tasty, but definitely check it frequently, so it doesn’t burn.






  • Sheri Hershfield Daar

    We crockpot ours over Shabbos for a added delight for Shabbos lunch.






  • Valerie

    Can this be made healthier by not using the full 3/4 cup olive oil?

    • The Nosher

      Cutting the amount of oil will affect the taste of the dish. If you do try reducing it, please let us know how it turns out. Enjoy!

    • The Nosher

      Hi Nancy, flanken or beef stew meat is preferable, as the ground beef may “disappear” into the potato mixture during the long cooking time.

  • Paula Jacobson

    How are the leftovers reheated? Same texture? Does Yapchik freeze well?

  • Paula Jacobson

    Are leftovers just as good after reheating? Does it freeze well?

    • The Nosher

      The leftovers are pretty good! And although it’s better fresh, you can freeze it, wrapped really well. Defrost it in the fridge, and you may need to add a little hot water before reheating your yapchik to keep it fluffy and moist.

    • The Nosher

      You’d risk the salt beef disintegrating into the potato mixture but it would definitely be tasty! Please let us know how it turns out if you try it.

    • The Nosher

      Thanks for flagging, Janice! It’s 1/4 cup. Enjoy!

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