Savory Kugel vs Sweet Kugel… as far as I’m concerned these are vastly different dishes. And over the years I think I’ve chalked it up to one thing, as far as what side of the Kugel fence you are on: your grandmother. The Kugel your grandmother made was always the best and if you’re like me, the only one worth while.
My grandmother helped raise my brother and I, and lived with us for a majority of those years. Although my mother’s idea of cooking was TV dinners and Shake and Bake chicken (any shout-outs for Shake and Bake? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?), my grandmother made many things from scratch. I still remember the smell of homemade apple sauce on the oven when I’d come home from school, but her Kugel was my all time favorite. When I was in high school I was helping her one day when I realized I should write down the recipe. My grandma was of the ‘a pinch of this, a dash of that’ school and I realized in that moment we were both getting older. In another year or so, I would be on my own and, well, she was just getting older, but I needed this recipe to continue on.
I’ve guarded this recipe card closely over the years. It is well worn and faded and full of stains. But aren’t the best recipe cards? I’ve guarded the recipe too. I’ve become the one in the family to make ‘Grandma’s Kugel’ and I’ve always worn that honor with pride. Imagine my horror a few years back when my cousin called to say his new girlfriend wanted to make the kugel for a holiday get together. (Insert sound of brakes squealing to a halt.) Not only did she want to make the kugel, she wanted grandma’s recipe. I was dumbfounded. My cousin and I, who loved this dish like no others, always talked about it (in context to holiday food, of course… or maybe not…) so my rational mind thought, ‘Ok, he talked it up, now she wants to impress him and the family because she’s the new girlfriend.’ My stubborn-Taurus-protective mind thought, ‘Oh hells no!’. But I loved my cousin, so against my better judgement, I took a photo with my phone and sent a copy of the recipe card. A bad, out-of-focus copy with no additional notes on what some of my writing on there meant. But I sent it. And you know what she said? “That’s it?”
It was in that moment that I realized this Kugel wasn’t the best Kugel that was ever made, with the most exotic ingredients no one had ever heard of. It was the best kugel because it was our grandmothers. And as far as my cousin and I were concerned, it was the best Kugel ever made. And it’s a Savory Kugel… because that’s what our grandmother made.
Savory Kugel is most often served for Passover, but I serve this any time a Jewish holiday is near. And often when they aren’t. Life is too short.
I should worn you, the amount of butter in this dish is not for the faint of heart. But don’t cut it out. It helps create the crispy edges that my cousin and I would fight over. (Thank goodness a pan has four corners, because those are always the best pieces!)
Yep, a whole stick for a 13 x 9 pan. I warned you…
And lots of cottage cheese, sour cream, eggs and milk. This recipe alone is why I can’t be vegan. (Gorgeous eggs from Le Bahn Ranch.)
Mix the egg noodles and mixture together and pour over the melted butter…
I bake it covered for about 45 minutes then uncover for 15 more to start getting that crunchy texture. And see the browning starting on the sides? Oh yeah!!! That’s what you want. Well, that’s what I want and I highly recommend it!
And so yea, girlfriend, that’s it! Only the best Savory Kugel ever, from my grandma to you.
Dedicated to my grandma and my cousin. Love and miss you both.