With Passover approaching, I thought I'd throw in a recipe for a traditional Seder dish, one that you do not have to be Jewish to enjoy. Although kugel is associated with Jewish food in America, it is native to Lithuania, where it is properly called "kugelis" and is also popular in Poland. That said, most of the kugels I've had are pasty concoctions that aren't very exciting. I think it is more tradition than desire that keeps it coming back.This version of potato kugel is light and airy. The more eggs you use, the puffier the kugel will be, so feel free to add more eggs if you wish. It is flavored with caramelized shallots which adds an intriguing element to the dish. In addition, my recipe calls for shredding red potatoes instead of grating russets. I also use EVOO instead of plain vegetable oil or chicken fat.
It is important that you bake the kugel in a glass dish. If you use metal, it will not form a crispy crust which is, in my opinion, the best part. In fact, I recommend cooking the kugel in individual Pyrex custard cups which come in 6- and 10-oz sizes. That way, the crusty surface area is maximized. Just set the cups in a throwaway roasting pan in the oven in case any oil bubbles over.The kugel will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge or months in the freezer. Just reheat, but please use a regular oven to maintain the crispness, not a microwave.
3 Lbs Red potatoes
1 Large Onion, peeled
3/4 Cup EVOO
2 Medium Shallots. peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 Cup Potato starch
1 Pinch Ground nutmeg
1 Tbs Kosher salt
1 Tsp Freshly ground black pepper
Pre-heat oven to 425°. Peel the potatoes and put them in a bowl of water so that they don't turn brown. Heat the EVOO in a skillet or sauté pan and add the shallots. Cook until the shallots have caramelized, about 10 minutes. Remove the shallots with a slotted spoon and reserve them. Place 2 Tbs of the oil in a 13" x 9" Pyrex baking dish and roll it around to coat the bottom and sides. Place the dish in the oven. The idea is to get the dish hot. Maintain a fire under the shallot infused oil to keep it hot.
While the shallots are cooking beat the eggs in a large bowl and add the salt and pepper, potato starch and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Fit the food processor with a shredding blade. Cut the potatoes and onion into chunks that will fit into the feed tube. Starting with the onion, process all the chunks. Add the shredded potatoes and onion, the shallots and the hot oil to the egg mixture. Stir to combine and dump it all into the hot baking dish. If there are any large chunks of potato in the mix, you can discard them. Press the mix evenly in the baking dish, making sure that it is in the corners (the best, crispiest part). Bake about an hour until golden brown and crispy. Let it rest at least 15 minutes before serving.