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noodle kugel

On a bookshelf next to our kitchen, you will find a large green binder containing 204 pages of recipes (we recently counted!) which we have been collecting over the past ten years. It is filled with scribbled notes, comments, and detailed descriptions of where they came from. It is meticulously alphabetized and divided into six categories: Main Courses, Sides, Cakes, Cookies, Other Desserts, and Breakfasts. On the thirtieth page of the Sides section, nestled comfortably between a no-mayo potato salad from Rachael Ray and a Puerto Rican pique sauce, lies this glorious sweet baked dish. And at the bottom of the recipe is a handwritten note from December 2010 declaring it the “best kugel we have ever had.” This traditional noodle casserole adapted from Gourmet Magazine stole the show at our Hanukkah party five years ago and we have continued to make it every year since.

This is the kugel you have been dreaming about. One bite, and you will be uncontrollably dancing the hora all night long! What sets it apart is the heavenly topping: Covered in a crispy cinnamon-sugar cornflake crust, it perfectly complements the rich, creamy custard below. Similar to bread pudding, this classic Jewish dish uses milk and eggs, but also adds sour cream and cottage cheese giving it an extra-silky smooth texture and delicate flavor. Sweetened with raisins, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla, this casserole could almost fit in the dessert category, but is usually served with dinner as a side, pleasing every child… and inner-child at the table.

The name Kugel actually refers to a family of dishes, which are all quite different from each other. Potato kugels are usually savory and resemble large baked hash browns. Other kinds use pieces of bread or matzo, while some add feta, cheddar cheese, or vegetables like cabbage, zucchini, and carrots. This simple, classic version—also called a lokshen kugel—is essentially a baked noodle custard. While it is commonly enjoyed at holiday dinners, it would be equally delicious for breakfast, brunch, or any other meal where a warm, crispy, crunchy side would be welcome. It truly doesn’t matter whether you are an adult or a child, celebrating Hanukkah or Christmas, this delicious tradition can be enjoyed by everyone.

Noodle Kugel
adapted from Gourmet Magazine, via Epicurious

For the kugel:
1 pound (454g) dried wide egg noodles
1/2 cup (113g  /1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup (237ml) whole milk
5 large eggs
1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 ounces (454g) sour cream
16 ounces (454g) cottage cheese
1 cup (150g) raisins

For the topping:
2 cups (3.5 ounces / 99g) crushed corn flakes
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan, and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook the egg noodles until al dente according to package directions. Drain them, then return them to the empty pot, add the butter, and toss to coat the noodles evenly. Cover pot, and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt, and whisk until smooth. Add the sour cream, and whisk again. Add the cottage cheese and raisins, and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the pot with the noodles, and toss gently to combine. Pour the noodle mixture into the prepared baking pan, and spread it evenly.

In a small bowl, combine the crushed corn flakes, sugar, and cinnamon, stirring well to combine. Sprinkle the corn flake mixture evenly over the top of the kugel, then scatter the pieces of butter over the top. Bake until the center is fully cooked and the edges are golden brown, about 60 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes, serve hot, and enjoy!