Jerusalem Noodle Kugel

24 Jan

ImageA kugel is a pudding. A Jerusalem kugel uses caramelized sugar, which gives it a nice, deep, brown color, lots of oil, and lots of black pepper, which makes it both sweet and spicy. Most recipes call for cooking the noodles first, then caramelizing the sugar and pouring it over the noodles, then adding the eggs. I used to do it this way, but it was a little tricky, because when the caramelized sugar hit the noodles, it tended to form chunks and not coat the noodles evenly. This problem was solved when I found a Jerusalem kugel recipe in the New York Times. It’s a little time intensive, but it’s easier to get a good result.

You still have to be careful when caramelizing the sugar. If you let it go even 30 seconds too long, it will burn. And if you’ve never done it, you may not know what to expect. This is what happens when you mix the sugar with the oil and heat it: First the sugar will seem to dissolve, but much of the oil will remain separate. As the mixture continues to cook, it will seem to solidify as the oil is absorbed, and you’ll have clumps of moistened sugar. Keep stirring. Finally the sugar will start to melt and turn brown. Stir it constantly and watch it like a hawk. As soon as the color is golden brown, almost as dark as you want, pull it off the flame – I say “almost” because the hot syrup will continue to cook for short while.

I make it a little differently than the original New York Times recipe, which calls for 12 ounces of noodles (actually, they call for a mixture of angel hair pasta and fettucine), ½ cup oil, 1½  cup sugar and 4 eggs. The Times also suggests baking the kugel in a Bundt or tube pan. but I prefer an oblong pan.

This makes a very large kugel, enough to feed 12 or more. To make a smaller kugel, use 8 ounces of noodles, ⅓ cup oil, 1¼ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. black pepper, 1 cup sugar and 3 eggs, and bake in an 8-inch square pan.

Ingredients:

1¾ cups sugar
5 fluid oz. vegetable oil, plus a little more for greasing the pan
6 cups water
2½ tsp. salt
¾ to 1 tsp. ground black pepper
16 oz. package egg noodles
5 large eggs, well beaten

Directions:

Place 1 cup of sugar and the 5 fluid oz. of oil (between 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup) in a heavy 8-quart saucepan or Dutch oven. Stir constantly over medium heat until the sugar caramelizes, about 10 to 20 minutes. (See comments above for helpful hints.) Remove from heat and cool for about 15 minutes; the sugar will harden. (Be sure to take your wooden spoon or other stirring implement out of the pot before the mixture cools!)

Pour 6 cups of water into the pan with the sugar mixture and bring to the boil. The hardened sugar will slowly dissolve. Add the salt, pepper and remaining sugar. When the water boils, add the noodles. Cook until the water is almost completel absorbed/evaporated, stirring occasionally so that the noodles don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and cool slightly, stirring occasionally to release the heat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the oven is ready, add the eggs to the noodles and stir well. Pour into a greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake for about an hour, until the top is nicely browned. Cut into squares to serve.

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