Nana’s Kugel

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This Thanksgiving I had two daughters tell me I was remiss in not having Nana’s Kugel recipe on my blog for them to find and look up to make. I haven’t posted it yet, even though it was in my first book, Maria Rodale’s Organic Gardening, which is available used on Amazon.com for as low as a penny (makes a great gift! Lots of pretty pictures, and not available on the Kindle, either). Nana was quite a character. For the full story on her, you’ll have to read the book!

Nana’s Kugel is a tradition in our family. It’s a savory, not sweet, kugel, with roots in her Lithuanian heritage. No matter who makes it or how, it never tastes the same or looks the same, but somehow, it has the essence of Nana’s kitchen and our childhood in every bite. Sometimes we use a grater and the pieces are big. Sometimes I just put it all in the blender and it comes out more like a pudding. Some of my sisters try to make it low in fat. I always try to make it high in fat. You can make it vegetarian, but I think it’s best with real chicken broth—homemade broth is best so you can get some of the chicken fat into the mix. I also prefer it thinner, rather than thicker, so that there’s more crust on top and bottom than fluff in the middle. But the great thing about this recipe is that it’s hard to screw it up and easy to personalize.

 

Nana’s Kugel

Serves 4

 

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium to large potatoes
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 small to medium onion
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 turnip (optional)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or butter
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel the potatoes and soak them in cold water while you clean the other vegetables.
  3. Either grate all the vegetables (including potatoes) or put them in a food processor or mixer. You can add the broth at this point, too.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix in the eggs, salt, and all the olive oil/butter except enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
  5. Oil the bottom of the pan, and add the mixture.

Put pan in the oven, lower the heat to 375, and cook for about an hour, or until the top is golden brown and it just looks done.

 

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12 Responses to Nana’s Kugel

  1. Toni November 28, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    I must agree with you on trying to get the taste or texture of old traditional recipes. I look forward to trying this Kugel and since I don’t have comparison to your Nana’s, I’ll be starting my own tradition. Thanks.

  2. Donna in Delaware November 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    Every woman on my husband’s side of the family have a kugel recipe. From Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Israel and the US. You’re correct in saying that you can’t really mess it up! Everyone seems to want to make it their way, you should, if you don’t want the traditional, heavy, fat laden, calorie laden kugel of yore. A lightened-up version is defienitely in order, but try the tradional ones first. Sweet or savory, you can’t beat it!

  3. Deb December 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    I believe I will try this with the addition of grated radishes…..which we seem to have a ton of right now!!

  4. Gina December 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    Is Kugel the same as a latke?

  5. Donna in Delaware December 5, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Gina-
    NO! Kugels are usually made with noodles, thin, thick flat noodles, veggies, cheese, and whatever else you want to add. They can be sweet or savory.

    Latkes are usually made with shredded white potatoes, or sweet potatoes with other things added, i.e., apples, leeks, onions, shallots, zucchini, winter squash, etc, flour and/or matzo meal, egg, flatened and pan fried until crisp, or oven baked until crisp. They are usually eaten with, or topped with sour cream or applesauce.

  6. dk December 6, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    One small question comes to mind in the mixing. One bowl has potatoes and such and another bowl has eggs and such. The recipe doesn’t say anything about mixing both bowls together ‘before’ adding the mixer to the pan. Does it make any difference to the look or taste of the meal?

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