Since today is the first day of Passover, this week's recipe is an Ashkenazi classic casserole, potato kugel.
Kugel is a baked pudding or casserole traditionally served on the Jewish Sabbath or other holidays. Originally puffed and baked in a ring shape, the name of the Yiddish dish likely referenced the Middle High German word kugel, meaning sphere, globe, or ball. Today, kugel is often baked in a square or rectangular pan.
The casserole originated as a savory dish made with bread and flour, but some say German cooks replaced bread with noodles or farfel around 800 years ago. Eventually, eggs, cinnamon, and sweet farmer's cheese were added, turning the dish into the sweet noodle kugel that is most common today.
But savory versions are still popular as well. Today they are often made using onions, matzoh, and potatoes, after their popularization in the mid-19th century
This potato kugel recipe, adapted from Martha Stewart, incorporates shallots, fresh thyme, and a matzo meal crust that gets golden brown and crisped while baking. It makes the perfect side for a Passover roast chicken or brisket.
Potato Kugel Gratin serves 10
Ingredients Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish 3 1/2 pounds russet potatoes*, peeled (about 6 large) 5 shallots, thinly sliced 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (optional) 3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish 5 large eggs, room temperature 1 1/4 cups chicken broth 1 cup unsalted matzo meal Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for serving *For a slightly sweet twist on the dish, incorporate sweet potatoes into the mix Also needed: parchment paper, foil
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place rack in upper third of the oven.
In a small bowl, combine salt and pepper.
Oil the bottom of a baking dish and a bit of sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Use a handheld slicer or sharp knife to cut the potatoes into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Arrange vertically in baking dish, then wedge in shallots and garlic and sprinkle thyme throughout. Brush with oil and sprinkle remaining salt and pepper mixture between potato slices.
Whisk eggs, broth, 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Add matzo meal and stir to combine. Pour mixture evenly over potatoes, tapping baking dish on the counter to ensure the mixture settles. Cover with parchment, then with foil, and transfer to oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and parchment, rotate the baking pan, and continue baking, uncovered, until potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 40 minutes more.
Increase heat to broil and broil until crust is golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. (Watch carefully to prevent overbrowning.) Garnish with thyme and sea salt. Let rest at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes before serving.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.