Friday, September 17, 2010

Is Noodle Kugel a Dessert?

photo by Anthony Palatta


How is "Kugel," or the Jewish version of noodle pudding, like a platypus?  Because they're both unclassifiable.

Is kugel a dessert, a side dish, a main course, or an appetizer?  If it's a dessert, what kind of dessert is it?  A sweet casserole?  A cake?  I ultimately decided on the label of "pudding," though I'm not wedded to that decision.

Whatever kugel is, it is certainly delicious and easy.  You begin by boiling egg noodles according to the directions on the package for baked noodle dishes (meaning you want to err on the side of undercooking).  Drain the noodles, then mix in your favorite dairy products. My mom's version has sour cream and cottage cheese, plus some butter and beaten eggs. Almost all versions have cinnamon and sugar in the mix. Many include raisins, but my family has never been that big on raisins, so we do drained crushed pineapple.

Throw it all in a 9 x 13.  At this point you can reserve it in the fridge if you want and just bake it off when you're ready to eat it.  Or go ahead and sprinkle with a crumb topping, consisting of cornflake crumbs, brown sugar, and melted butter. Bake it for about an hour,
until you see some golden brown action. Cut into squares that are crunchy on the outside, soft, buttery, and sweet inside.

I find that kugel tastes best when it's fresh. Leftovers tend to dry out, resulting in the rubbery stuff you may have tasted in restaurants.

Here's the exact recipe:


Noodle Kugel

16 ounces egg noodles, medium are preferred but any size will work.
1 lb cottage cheese  
½ pint sour cream
½ stick butter
3 eggs beaten
2 tbsp sugar
a little cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 cup of drained crushed pineapple

Cook noodles according to directions on package for casseroles, drain, and then mix all the rest of ingredients in a 9 x 13 pan.  Add milk if needed (though my mother notes it's never needed).  Can be made a day ahead, and stored in fridge, but don’t put on the topping.

When you're ready to bake it, cover with the topping (recipe below) and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.  You want the kugel to be golden brown, not burned.

Topping:

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup cornflake crumbs
½ stick butter

Melt the butter, add crumbs and then sprinkle on top of kugel.

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