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Mar 11, 2007 06:17 AM

Potato Kugel

Ok, inspired as I am by the thread on potato latkes, I have yet to be able to replicate my mother's recipe for potato kugel. Delightfully brown thin crusty top with a soft potato center, the edges (corners being the best part -- worth fighting over) were thick, crisp, lacy.

My kugel comes out with the top either not properly brown or the edges burnt. I don't have a formal recipe, but I combine food processed peeled baking potatoes (water squeezed out) with grated onion, egg, matzo meal, salt and pepper in a pyrex dish that I bake at 400 degrees for at least an hour, but it never gets the crust or edges I'm looking for.

Anyone have any suggestions?

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  1. you need to have some oil in the mixture, as well as grease the baking dish. not sure from your recipe recap that you do either. the fat will facilitate the browning.

    1. I have a similar problem, but have noticed a few things:
      (1) I seem to have better luck in metal than in pyrex, but maybe it's because i always reduce the oven temp a little when I use pyrex
      (2) like for latkes, you really want *all* the water squeezed out of the potatoes (sounds like you're already doing this, though)
      (3) a lot of recipes call for too much egg, which makes the whole thing too liquidy and it ends up steaming and never browning
      (4) brush the top with oil before it goes in the oven (maybe you're already doing that, too)
      But maybe someone else will have a real "mom" secret! :)

      2 Replies
      1. re: another_adam

        Great suggestions. Spray Pam will not be sufficient. I need to use more fat (chicken fat seems right flavor-wise, but not so great for our arties) and keep the proportion of eggs down.

        Any thoughts about the matzo meal/potato starch options?

        1. re: chicgail

          I'd say potato starch; matzo meal absorbs egg and cooks into something bready/fluffy (viz. matzo stuffing, kishka, etc.). Potato starch is the way to go for latkes, why not for kugel? :)

      2. How much oil/shortening do you use to grease the pyrex? The recipes I have seen call for a 1/4 cup of oil -

        1. You need some oil in the mix, and oil in the pan. I use Pyrex and put about a quarter cup of oil into the dish...when you pour the mix in the oil will get pushed up (usually in the corners, hence the great corners) and onto the top which browns the top.

          1. My bubby always made her potato kugel and lokshen kugel (always savoury, with fried onions) in a large frypan on top of the stove. The crusts on these kugels cannot be duplicated in the oven.

            My grandmother's potato kugel always had a grey tinge because she'd rub the potatoes and then let them sit (straining, perhaps?) while she did something else. By the time she got back to the mixture, the potatoes had oxidized. What I wouldn't give for my bubby's grey potato kugel. There's nothing like it.

            One way to get the bottom crust super crispy is to heat the oil (don't skimp - use at least 1/4 cup) in the pan in the oven, until it's hot, and then carefully pour the potato (or lokshen) mixture in. And I agree with another adam about drizzling some additional oil on top.

            5 Replies
            1. re: FlavoursGal

              oh yeah, i've had some gray or pink kugel incidents, too!
              Grating the potatoes into a big pot of cold water with a little cream of tartar dissolved in it, letting them soak for about 5 mins, and then squeezing them out (very assiduously) can help eliminate that, for those of us who prefer the kugel to be golden brown and not gray :)

              This stovetop method sounds interesting, though: I assume it has to be covered to cook through? Is there any flipping attempted at the end, or does the top just stay pale?

              1. re: another_adam

                It's cooked uncovered, until the bottom is deeply browned. Then you slide it onto a flat plate/frypan lid, add more oil to the pan, flip the kugel over onto another plate/lid, and slide it back in to cook on the other side. It cooks through without any problems (note: use finely grated - not shredded - potatoes).

                1. re: FlavoursGal

                  Interesting! This sort of takes the current trend with frittatas (take a dish ordinarily cooked on the stove and flipped, and make it easier by just baking it in the oven) and stands it on its head! (This seems to confirm what I've suspected all along, that Jewish mothers seek out adversity :) ) The idea of an enormous latke sounds nice, I'll have to give it a try-- though I can't give up on coarsely shredded potatoes...

              2. re: FlavoursGal

                My mom's kugel ( and latkes) were gray too--I had almost forgot. Thanks for the memory!

                1. re: FlavoursGal

                  when my aunt becky cooked a grated potate mixture on top of the stove, she always called it a the oven it was a kugel. seems to me the potatonik was always a little firmer than the kugel.