By Tina Wasserman
This Passover you are most likely not cooking for a large group of people but you still need to prepare for whatever format your Seder will take. Of course, there are always the meals for the following days as well.
Potato kugels use most of the basic ingredients you have in your home so I thought it would be good to offer the following three kugels. One kugel is dairy, one is pareve and one is meat (if you add the chicken fat). In addition, one is free of all matzo products so it is perfect for those with gluten sensitivity.
Here are some of my tidbits for all the kugels.
• I generally like to use California Long White potatoes or Yukon Gold because they have a creamier consistency when cooked and because they are thin–skinned and rarely require peeling.
• Russet potatoes seem to discolor more rapidly than the other potatoes.
• Rinsing any grated potato with cold water and draining in a strainer washes away the excess starch, which causes the potato to blacken upon standing. This technique works significantly better than vitamin C or onions or any acidic food and also doesn’t alter the flavor of your dish.
• Any dish that includes matzo meal should allow time for the meal to hydrate and absorb some of the liquid. This is especially true if you want light matzo balls. People often add more matzo meal because they think the batter is too runny and then they wind up with matzo rocks. However, if this is what you like then go for it!
Above all, I wish everyone a safe and healthy Pesach and take care of yourselves and families as a first priority. You can have a remote seder on Zoom and still feel connected to loved ones.
Potato Mina for Passover
(adapted from Capsouto Freres’ Restaurant)
This is a French Potato Kugel or Mina given to me by the Capsouto Brothers in New York. That fact that it is called a Mina suggests that these French brothers had family origins in Algiers or other French territories in Northern Africa. Containing dairy, this recipe could accompany an omelet and a salad for a very satisfying dinner.
4 pounds russet potatoes (4 large)
8 large eggs
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon kosher salt or to taste
15 grindings of black pepper or ½ teaspoon
6-7 boards of matzo
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Additional oil for greasing pan
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese for topping
- Wash and cut potatoes into eighths. Place in a large pot. Cover with water, add about 1 tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted into the potato comes out easily.
- Drain potatoes, peel when cool, and then mash in a large 4-quart bowl.
- Add the eggs and stir with a flat whisk or fork until thoroughly combined. Add the 1 cup Parmesan cheese and the seasonings and mix well. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place 3 inches of water in a glass dish wide enough to hold a board of matzo. Microwave the water for 3 minutes or until very warm.
- In another bowl or dish large enough to hold matzo, combine the remaining 2 eggs, milk and oil with a pinch of salt.
- To assemble the Mina, grease a 13×9 glass dish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place in the oven for 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile soak 2 boards of matzo in the warm water until slightly soft. Lift from water and dip each board in the egg/milk mixture. Remove baking dish from oven and lay the 2 boards of matzo in the bottom of the dish. They will lay flat and be slightly narrower than the pan. That’s OK.
- Place half of the potato mixture over the matzos and spread evenly. Repeat step 8 and then cover with the remaining potatoes.
- Repeat step 8 again with the last three matzos and use the third matzo to fill in on the sides if necessary. Pour the remaining egg mixture, if any, over the matzo and then sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until top is golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out hot.
- Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 15-24 people
Note: This is very mild in flavor and tastes even better re-heated the next day!
• Add 1 small grated onion to the potato mixture
• Add 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
• Sauté 1 cup chopped onion until lightly golden and add 8 ounces chopped mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are done. Layer ½ of this mixture over each potato layer. Follow remaining instructions.
When I worked for a kosher caterer in Philadelphia I wondered how their latkes stayed so thick. I worked on the following recipe which could also be used for latkes (minus the extra ¼ cup oil in the batter). This kugel is your classic Ashkenazi potato kugel which, by the way, only became popular in the mid-19th century when potatoes began to be popular in poor households across Europe.
6 large California white or Yukon Gold potatoes, raw
2 large California white or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed
1 medium onion, grated
3 eggs, beaten well
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup matzo meal
¼ cup olive oil or rendered chicken fat
1 tablespoon additional oil or chicken fat for coating top
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heavily oil a two-quart casserole or 13×9 inch dish.
- Grate the raw potatoes using the coarse blade on your processor or grate on largest holes on a grater. Place in a strainer and drain well. Place the drained potatoes in a 4-quart bowl.
- Grate the onion. Change to the cutting blade on your processor. Add ¼ of the grated potatoes to the onion and pulse on and off to make a coarse paste. Add to the grated raw potatoes.
- Add the mashed potato mixture to the bowl and using a fork or clean hands thoroughly combine the potato mixture.
- Add the eggs and the remaining ingredients except the last tablespoon of oil or chicken fat.
- Pour mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top and drizzle the remaining tablespoon oil or chicken fat over the top and bake for 45 minutes or until top is crisp and golden.
Cojada-Brazilian Potato Kugel
Very often family recipes are handed down verbally rather than written with concise measurements. I found this recipe on a Jewish food blog and adapted it to more concise measurements and directions for your enjoyment. Using no matzo meal and folding in beaten egg whites makes this a very light kugel that could be scooped from the dish rather than cut into squares although that is possible as well. Enjoy.
2-2 ½ pounds russet potatoes (about 5-6 small-medium)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil plus 1 teaspoon for greasing pan
1 large onion cut into ¼-inch dice
1 teaspoon sugar
3 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons kosher salt
15 grindings of black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, or more to taste
1 tablespoon additional oil for top
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees for convection or 425 degrees for conventional oven. Grease an 11×7-inch Pyrex dish with the 1 teaspoon of olive oil and set aside.
- Wash the potatoes and put them in a 4-quart pot covered with water and to which 1 tablespoon of salt has been added. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the temperature to a simmer and cook the potatoes until a fork easily pierces the potatoes. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, heat a 10-inch frying pan for 15 seconds. Add the ¼ cup olive oil and heat for another 10 seconds. Add the diced onions and sugar and sauté until they are golden brown.
- When potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and mash them to be fairly smooth using a masher, food mill or forks.
- Combine the mashed potatoes with the sautéed onions and any oil in the pan. Add the egg yolks, and seasonings and mix well.
- In another bowl or electric stand mixer bowl beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt until the whites are stiff and still glossy — about 5 minutes.
- Add ¼ of the beaten egg whites to the potatoes and mix in to lighten the mixture. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until no whites are easily visible.
- Pour mixture into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Pour the remaining tablespoon of oil over the top of the potatoes and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the kugel is golden brown.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
Serves 4-6 people