February 22, 2008
I'm going to share an old family recipe with you. I got it from my mother, who got it from her mother, who got it from her mother and so on. It originally came from Russia with my great-great grandmother. I have no idea how the recipe may have changed over the years except for the changes I've made. Even though I've altered the recipe a little, it still tastes the same to me as when my mother made it. The original recipe from my mother had an egg in it, and she dotted it before baking with butter or margarine. The recipe has bread in it but sometimes I use cooked buckwheat instead. In the "olden days" everything was grated by hand, but a food processor makes the prep very fast.
We called this recipe "stuffing" in my family, because that's how it was used - to stuff a turkey for a holiday dinner. There was always a huge pan of it in addition to the stuffed version, because we could never get enough. It even tastes amazing re-heated, or just cold. My mother served it for every holiday dinner and we never tired of it. Over the years of raising a family, I have served it for every holiday, too, and now my kids are continuing the tradition. The first time I made it, I was delighted to discover that the enticing smell I associated with holidays came from the stuffing, and not the turkey. Yay.
I think that because I associated making the stuffing with hectic holiday cooking for a crowd, I thought it might be too much trouble to present on an easy cooking blog, but really, it's a snap. It took me no time to make a recipe. (For holidays I usually make two or three recipes, depending on who's coming. If my middle son will be there, for example, I have to make a lot!) Now I think I won't wait for a holiday to make it, it would be an interesting side dish to share with friends or family at any meal.
Potato "stuffing" (kugel) serves 4 to 6
-three medium potatoes, peeled (I used organic russet potatoes.)
-three medium onions
-three slices sandwich bread (I used whole wheat)
-two large cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper
-olive oil or margarine (optional but recommended)
food processor (or fine hand grater for you traditionalists)
Peel the potatoes and put them in a bowl of cold water so they won't turn weird colors. Peel the onions and cut into small cubes. Cut the bread into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside. Put about one onion into the processor bowl and process until nearly smooth. Cut a potato into small cubes and add to processor. (Processing an onion before adding the potato seems to keep the potato white) Alternate cubed onion and potato until all is smooth. As the food processor fills, empty the mixture into a large bowl. If there are a few potato lumps it won't matter. When the potatoes and onions are all in the bowl, add the garlic and mix. Add the salt (more or less to taste) and pepper and mix. Stir in the bread cubes. If there seems to be a lot of liquid from the potatoes in the mix, stir in a tablespoon of matzoh meal or flour.
Place the mix into an oiled 9-inch square baking dish or any casserole dish of about 1-1/2 quarts. (I used a Le Creuset ceramic dish but sometimes I use a stainless steel pan and sometimes a ceramic baking dish I made) Sprinkle with paprika, and drizzle with olive oil or dot with margarine, if desired. I drizzled mine with two teaspoons of olive oil. Cover with foil and bake about one hour in a pre-heated 350˚oven. Uncover and bake 20 minutes more until the top is brown and the edges are crispy. Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish. (Different kinds of potatoes and different shaped dishes can require different baking times. Taste a little bit from the center to see if it tastes cooked, and if it is, uncover it to brown and crisp.)
Instead of bread, you can add a cup of cooked buckwheat to the potato-onion mix. It's really good and a little heartier.
You can double, triple, whatever, the recipe to serve the number of people you have. I usually make two or three recipes. It will take about twice as long to bake a double recipe. Cold leftovers are delicious!