Potato pudding, or kugel, is a staple of Jewish holiday meals. It's also a favorite of my dad's, but he's not easy to please. If a kugel is heavy or the color is off, he complains. If the cook has added anything untraditional, he complains.
After tasting a particularly bad version, he asked me to make one just the way he wanted. A few healthful tweaks later, my father now complains that I don't make it often enough.
To make sure the potatoes are cooked through and don't discolor, I parboil them before grating them. Low-starch potatoes work best: reds, rather than russets or Yukon Gold varieties. Olive or peanut oil takes the place of chicken fat, and beaten egg whites add lightness.
You can use store-bought chicken broth here, but if you have homemade, this is the place to pour it on.
Make Ahead: The pudding can be baked, cooled and refrigerated a day in advance, though it's best when served freshly baked. Cover and reheat in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until heated through.
Servings: 10 - 12
- 2 1/2 pounds red potatoes, preferably 4 to 5 ounces each, peeled (about 2 pounds peeled)
- Kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons mild olive oil or peanut oil
- 12 ounces yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth (see headnote)
- 3/4 cup matzoh meal
- 4 large eggs, separated into whites and yolks
- Freshly ground black pepper
Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with cool water. Season lightly with salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook (at a boil) for 5 minutes, then use a slotted spoon or Chinese skimmer to transfer the potatoes to a platter to cool for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Season with salt to taste. Cook, stirring every minute or so, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the onions are soft and are starting to brown a little. Adjust the heat as necessary to avoid browning the onions too quickly. When the onions are ready, transfer to a large clean plate to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use 1 teaspoon of the oil to grease a shallow 14-inch gratin dish or a 9-by-13-inch shallow casserole dish. Line a small plate with a few layers of paper towels.
Use a box grater or food processor fitted with a shredding disk to grate the cooled potatoes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, along with the broth, onion, matzoh meal and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Lightly beat the egg yolks, then pour them into the bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use your hands to blend the ingredients.
Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer on low, then medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gently fold them into the potato mixture.
Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Use a tablespoon of the potato mixture to form a small pancake. Add to the pan; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly browned, then turn it over and cook for 2 minutes: transfer to a paper towel. Taste the pancake and add more salt to the potato mixture if needed.
Spoon the mixture into the baking dish, spreading it evenly. Drizzle the remaining teaspoon of oil over the top. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the top of the pudding is golden brown and the edges are dark brown. Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
From columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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