Prepare yourself for a shocking admission: I do not like potato kugel. Never have, probably never will. Yes, I am indeed Jewish. I come from a large family of potato kugel lovers. My mother even sends over potato kugels for my husband because I so rarely make them. I like other kugels but I just don’t get the appeal of potato kugel. With one rare exception. Occasionally at a Kiddush the caterer will bring out a greasy tray of delicious potato kugel. You know the type: the bottom is slightly darker, because all the eggs have sunk and it is clear that oil is a featured ingredient. For some reason THOSE potato kugels have sometimes appealed to me when the homemade, hand grated, gourmet potato kugels have not. It’s a guilty pleasure. We all have them. At least mine won’t kill anybody – well, not unless you count coronary artery disease.
When I saw the recipe for “overnight potato kugel” in Fresh & Easy by Leah Schapira I thought “Hey! maybe that’s the secret to those kiddush kugels. They sit around in a warmer all night. Why else would someone make a recipe for kugel that cooks all night, yet is not being made in a crock-pot and requires two hours of cooking before the long oven step?”. It must be to replicate that delicious kugel taste. So I decided to give it a try.
potatoes, onion, eggs, water, oil, salt, pepper
This is a simple recipe. You start by grating the potatoes and onion. You can use a food processor (Schapira recommends a Braun and even explains which blade to use) but I hate taking that thing out and cleaning it, so I hand grated my potatoes. Its not too difficult and reminds me of when I used to do this for my mother. Then you mix in the eggs, boiling water and spices. Everything gets poured into a pan and baked for two hours.
After two hours you remove the kugel from the oven and tightly wrap it three times with foil. As you can see from the photo, I made sure that puppy was sealed tight! The oven temperature is turned down and you replace the kugel into the oven with a pan of cold water placed on the rack below it. At this point the kugel sits for either 8 hours of overnight, so I went to bed. When I woke up in the morning the entire house smelled of potato kugel. Be warned your entire family will start craving kugel even if it is 6am! They can’t help it, the house has smelled like kugel the entire night.
The recipe makes a huge amount of kugel, a 9 x 13 inch pan full. The kugel has a slightly darker color than usual, and this is accurately depicted in the photo in the cookbook. It smelled awesome, but unfortunately it tasted like… nothing. It was bland and was not at all what I was hoping for. To make sure it wasn’t just my dislike of potato kugel I served it to potato kugel lovers in the family. They agreed that this was nothing special and wondere
d what the whole point of leaving it overnight was, as it did not improve the kugel at all. Its best feature was the delicious aroma.In the end, I would recommend adding more spices or serving this kugel with a dip like applesauce to make it more exciting. I won’t be making it again. My quest for kugel that tastes like the one at shul kiddush tables continues.