Saturday, October 18, 2014

Comfort Food isn't Meant to Be Pretty: Luchen Kugel

So I think it's actually Lokshen Kugel but I have always written it as Luchen and growing up we always said wrote Luchen so get all angry at all me all you want but that's just how it's gonna be. Let's just call it Kugel from here on out and be friends, all right?

I've been a big big fan of Kugel for as long as I can remember. In fact, I am pretty sure Kugel is one of the first things I can remember cooking in the kitchen with my mother. It was definitely one of the first things I cooked by myself. And it is DEFINITELY one of my favorite and ultimate comfort foods. This is going to be a funny post because as far as foods go, nothing is more hilariously gross sounding and gross looking as Kugel - at least the way I make it. I considered prettying it up, but that wouldn't be authentic, would it? And it's not real comfort food unless it's just as it is - as it has ALWAYS been. So consider this like an episode of Extreme Makeover: Comfort Food Edition. What started as kind of gross blossoms into something beautiful.

Getting excited for the final reveal yet?

Anyway, I make Kugel the same way my mother and Bubbie did so I don't really know how I'd pretty it up. There are TONS of various Kugel recipes online. Some are made with potato (what?), some are made to be sweet with tons of cinnamon and sugar (whaaaaat?), but the one I am used to and the one I crave when I need some comfort food is made with egg noodles and a lot of other ooey gooey buttery things.

Well this past week, I wanted comfort. It was a long Tuesday at work, I was PMSing big time, Cody was going to be gone all night at hockey, so I was on my own for dinner. It would be the perfect night to make a big pan of Kugel for myself as he does not completely understand its charm. I get it. If you're not Jewish or not a fan of buttery flavors, you probably won't understand it either - another reason this post will be funny. Hope you don't run for the hills upon reading this! Hey, everyone has a food they love that others don't, right? Rose colored glasses, that sort of thing?

Anyway, I stocked up on what I needed and threw it together - which is sort of how you make it. I mean, my recipe tells me two things before putting it in the oven: grease your 9x13 pan & combine ingredients. Where's my easy button!?

It really is ridiculously easy. Here is all you need to make a Kugel of your own:

I don't use margarine often but this is what my mom always used for Kugel so it is still how I make it! I tend to stick to recipes to a T. It's one of the (many) things Cody and I are opposites on - he likes to just create things by throwing this and that into a pan while I love my recipes. In fact, that is such a good metaphor for how we are as people. Oh man, Paula Abdul is in my head now!

"We come together 'cause opposites attract…"

Back to the Kugel. This is the part of the episode where I first meet my lucky cast member prior to the makeover - as raw and real as it came!

Once you get your noodles in the pot and have the oven heating up to 350, you just follow the oh so complicated instructions of combining everything in a greased 9x13 pan. It's just so challenging, I can't stand it. Mix it all up good and watch the weirdest Extreme Makeover episode begin in your kitchen!

Don't say I didn't warn you! Remember - the makeover has only just begun!


Yeah, it's not exactly a shot out of Food Network magazine either but I promise, this ugly duckling will become a swan. Okay, okay, scroll down and get past it. You're okay! Breathe!

Phew! Okay, now we're getting somewhere. Once those noodles are good to go you want to drain them and add them to the pan! Stir, baby, stir! Get the gooey-ness all combined. See? Getting better, right?

Once combined, we've always topped with some pads of butter and then into the oven it went! The recipe always called for 50-60 minutes but it tends to cook up in about 45 minutes if it hasn't been refrigerated beforehand.

My mother would always make this on weeknights because of how easy it is. It only took her about 15 minutes or so in the morning to throw it together while we got ready for school. Then she'd pop it into the fridge before leaving for the day and when it was time to eat, it'd go right into the oven. On those occasions, it may have taken a full hour or so.

In that time while it cooks, you get to sit in your kitchen, enjoying the buttery aroma as it fills the air, watching the clock as your mouth waters. Oh wait. No one does that when waiting on dinner? Just me? Well, I was PMSing! What do you expect from a hungry hormonal Jewish woman?!

Watching this dish come together, though, really is like a makeover. It starts out kinda gross looking but when it's done, it's all golden brown and delicious - the way comfort food should be! You immediately forget how gross it looked prior to baking. I mean, isn't that true love? Accepting others at their worst and loving them at their ooey gooey buttery best?

Voila! Deliciousness in a 9x13, my friends!

Luchen Kugel

1 bag egg noodles
1 lb cottage cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
extra butter to dollop on top

  1. Grease 9x13 pan. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine ingredients.
  3. Bake uncovered for 45min (50-60min if refrigerated beforehand).
  4. Face plant into pan.