The original kugel was most probably a dumpling made of bread, cooked in the Shabbat stew. A clever way to stretch the meal and at the same time use up any leftover bread from the week. With time, bread was replaced with bread dough, and eventually noodles and when potatoes became popular they were the starch of choice for kugels. As more people had home ovens the kugel made its way out of the cholent (Shabbat stew) pot and into the ovens. Though our cooking techniques and ingredients have evolved, there is something uniquely comforting about bringing an ancient recipe back to life.
The challah kugel though nowhere near as popular as a potato kugel still seems to have its fans and many Jewish cookbooks include some version of this bready treat. Savory or sweet, a challah kugel brings to mind bread puddings, french toast, and stuffings. One of the innovative ways that people in past generations made use of leftover bread.
- 500g (just over 1lb/1 medium challah) challah, including crusts, cut into 2cm (1 inch) cubes
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 celery ribs, finely chopped
- 25g (½ cup) minced parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 4 eggs, lightly beaten
- 350ml (1 ½ cups) chicken broth
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Heat oven to 200℃ (400℉). Toast challah cubes on a large baking sheet, stirring several times, until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and reduce the oven temperature to 180℃ (350℉).
- Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat until hot, add the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onions and celery, and cook, stirring, until soft and starting to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper, stir in, parsley and rosemary. Add to the bread cubes and toss until well combined. Stir in eggs and chicken broth. Adjust the seasonings.
- For a creamier Kugel, allow the bread mixture to sit for 30 minutes, for a slightly drier consistency bake straight away. Transfer to a greased large baking dish, bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown on top and creamy and set on the inside.
- Can be made up ahead of time, stored in the fridge for up to 2 days, and in the freezer for up to a month. To reheat, (if frozen: defrost) and place uncovered in a preheated oven 180℃ (350℉), and warm until heated through, about 20 minutes.