Kugelis By Krokys

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2014 Kugelis Cook-Off Champion: Jurate Krokys Stirbys

1st Place Winner Jurate Krokys Stirbys With Chef Georges Perrier

1st Place Winner Jurate Krokys Stirbys
With Chef Georges Perrier

To participate in the Kugelis Cook-Off, I undertook a little bit of research: I studied my mom’s recipe, went online to look at YouTube recipes and demonstrations, looked at a few more Lithuanian cookbook recipes and finally settled on a basic recipe in Lithuanian Traditional Foods published by Baltos Lankos (1998) containing recipes compiled by Birute Imbrasiene. I was most motivated to avoid the greatest fear there could be with kugelis: having the potatoes turn dark.

And so my poor family was my guinea pig: I made various versions playing around with types of potatoes, degrees of draining potatoes, amounts of bacon, fried or raw onions, and time in the oven. Here is my final version which I entered in the Kugelis Cook-Off. I hope it works for you. The hardest part of the baking is to step away from the oven. Although Kugelis will look and smell done at 1 hour baking time, it MUST stay in the oven baking for at least 1hr 15 min. (if a thinner version) to 1 hr 30 min. (if the mixture comes close to the rim).

Kugelis By Krokys (1st Place: 2014 Kugelis Cook-Off)

  • 5 lbs. Pennsylvania Butter Potatoes (Yukon Gold will do)
  • 2 cups scalded milk (scalding the milk helps to distribute the potato starch)
  • 3 brown eggs (I like to use cage-free I think it adds color and flavor and I feel less guilty)
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, finely grated
  • 1 lb. bacon, finely chopped and fried, do not drain fat
  • 1 cup minced ham
  • Salt to taste
  • Butter for the casserole dish
  • Cheesecloth to squeeze out excess moisture from the potatoes

Although I believe that the grated onion quickly applied to the grated potatoes helps to keep the potatoes white, it is important to prepare all of your ingredients in advance and to work quickly so that the potato batter does not darken.

1. Butter the 10” x 16” (thereabouts) casserole dish (I like to use a glass dish) and set aside.

2. Set up your potato grater. I am lucky, I have the electric kind, otherwise, find a couple of people to help you grate, speed is of the essence.

3. Peel your potatoes and submerge them in cold water. Peel your onion, set aside.

4. Measure out the milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan and turn on very low. You will know the milk is scalded when tiny bubbles begin to form along the edges. You can keep an eye on the milk while you are doing other preparation, just don’t forget. Turn off the milk once the bubbles appear. By the way, I used 4% milk.

5. Whisk the eggs and set aside.

6. After you have crisped the bacon, add the ham and mix, and turn off the heat.

7. Set up your cheesecloth so that it sits over a colander which sits over a bowl. You will also need another large bowl in which you will put the squeezed potato mass and into which you will add the other ingredients.

8. Drain the water off of the potatoes. Grate the potatoes. If by hand it must be through the small openings, the potatoes must come out like a fine batter. I suggest that you alternate grating potatoes with grating the raw onion. Same if you are doing it through the electronic grater.

9. Take about ¾ cup of this potato-onion mass and place on the cheesecloth which you then use to squeeze out the excess liquid by hand. I actually squeezed out a lot of the liquid; not all of it but enough to be able to peel off the wet potato-onion mass and place it in the larger bowl. Work quickly.

10. Once you are done with squeezing off the liquid, take the scalded milk and pour over the potatoes and mix with a wooden spoon.

11. Add the whisked eggs, mix.

12. Add the bacon-ham mixture, mix.

13. Add one teaspoon salt, mix.

14. Pour into the buttered casserole dish, and say a prayer as you put it into a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven, the middle of the oven.

15. Plan for 1hr and 30 minutes of baking. If after 1hr. 15min. it looks browned on the top, check with a toothpick in the center. The toothpick should come out completely dry. If not, give it another 10-15 minutes.

We eat Kugelis with sour cream, lots of it. I found that Russet potatoes worked OK but the color was bland. Also, if you don’t have ham that’s ok, but I thought it gave it nice texture. I tried one version with frying the Vidalia onions but I really liked the taste raw onions gave to the kugelis. Good luck!

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4 comments
lithuanianmha
lithuanianmha moderator

Janice, what a wonderful thing you are doing for the Merchant Seamen! 

Kugelis keeps for up to a week in the refrigerator, but I’ve never heard of freezing it. Its texture could change in the freezer. Balandėliai (stuffed cabbage) does freeze well and tastes nearly the same after being frozen. Įdarytos vištienos blauzdelės (stuffed chicken legs) freeze okay, too. It would truly be a labor of love if you prepare those (the chicken legs) as they are fairly labor intensive and it sounds like you’d need a large quantity to feed an entire ship!

Good luck with your new endeavor. The Merchant Seamen are lucky to have such a thoughtful volunteer!

JaniceLedebur
JaniceLedebur

Whoops! Made a typo. SCI is on North Fifthe Street!

JaniceLedebur
JaniceLedebur

I have just started to volunteer for the Seamens' Church Institute-Philadelphia, on South Fifth Street. I am trying to find ethnic  recipes for the Merchant Seamen that they serve. I am told these mariners are on these ships for prolonged  periods of time,  often lasting close to a year before they get home again. Most do not have the type of visa that allows them off the ship while it is in port. So I am trying to prepare meals that can be taken aboard ship to provide a taste of home. I don't know how successful I will be with the recipes but I am certainly going to try. 

Because the Institute only gets about four days notice before the ships come into port, I would have to make the recipe ahead of time and then freeze it until it would be needed. Do these freeze well?

If not, can you suggest other recipes that would.

Thank you so much for sharing your recipe and any other hints you can give that would help me to make some authentic meals.

Janice C. Ledebur

jcledebur@yahoo.com


JaniceLedebur
JaniceLedebur

@lithuanianmha

Thank you for  taking the time to supply this information. It is very helpful! Thank you for the  kind words as well!, My niece and I are going to try to do some of the kugelis either later today or tomorrow! Keep your fingers crossed for us and for the seamen who will be eating it!!!!I hope we do well for their sake!. Thanks again, and if you have any suggestions about what they might like, don't hesitate to send them! Janice