Lithuanian Kugelis and Bulvių Dešros

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Lithuanian Kugelis (Bulvių Plokštainis/Potato Cake) and
Bulvių Dešros (Potato Sausage)

Lithuanian Kugelis With Sour Cream

Lithuanian Kugelis With Sour Cream

Mention comfort food and Lithuanian kugelis immediately pops into my mind. Like baked macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food for so many people, this is my ultimate comfort food. Try it once and you just might feel the same way. In Lithuania, kugelis is widely popular — appearing in home kitchens and on menus everywhere.

My family has been serving kugelis for decades (likely, centuries) and over the years, we experimented with our recipe. My grandmother’s generation and those before her grated the potatoes and onion by hand. We used to grate everything manually, too, but discovered that a blender accomplishes the same results. Purists probably would disagree with us, but we are pleased with our results.

On the other hand, we studied two other elements of our recipe and after experimentation, decided that they should not be compromised. We tried to make a reduced fat version of kugelis by experimenting with the bacon drippings. Kugelis made without bacon drippings or with less than ¼ cup of them simply is not the same, in our opinion.

Similarly, we conducted our own blind taste test for potato varieties and discovered that potato variety also has a significant impact on kugelis. Red skinned potatoes are by far the best in terms of flavor and texture. Yukon gold are also very good. White, russet, and Idaho potatoes are not good choices for kugelis, in our opinion.

Bulvių Dešros (Potato Sausage)

Bulvių Dešros (Potato Sausage)

You may notice that while most kugelis recipes contain several eggs, ours contains only one. I am not sure why our recipe is so different than others in this regard, but guess it relates to how we use the mixture interchangeably for potato sausage (bulvių dešros). Our kugelis is fairly dense and this density probably is better suited for dešros than fluffier varieties.

My father grew up in Pennsylvania’s eastern coal region and always referred to both kugelis and bulvių dešros as “dasheries.” When I began studying Lithuanian, I could not understand why he called them dasheries since no similar word seemed to appear in the dictionaries I had seen. After stumbling upon the translation for sausage, I realized that dasheries was an American adaptation of dešros. However, why he referenced kugelis as a sausage remains a mystery!

Crispy Diced Bacon

Crispy Diced Bacon

Kugelis and Bulvių Dešros

From the Kitchen of
Emilija Gvazdaitytė Naujalienė, 1886 – 1966

  • 5 lbs red potatoes
  • 1 lb bacon, partially frozen
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 TBS flour
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • 2 pork casings (if making sausage)
  • Sour cream for garnish
Potatoes And Onions

Potatoes And Onions In Cold Water

Serves 4 – 6 persons as a main course.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Slice the frozen bacon into small ½” pieces. Fry it until very crispy and set this pan of bacon and drippings aside. Do not discard the drippings.

When served, kugelis should be golden brown. To achieve this golden color, work quickly with the potatoes and keep them immersed in cold water. If your raw potatoes are exposed to too much air before baking, your kugelis may turn gray. It will taste fine, but will not look as appealing. Also, processing the onion first and adding the potatoes to the puréed onion helps to prevent the kugelis from graying.

Potato, Bacon, And Onion Mixture

Potato, Bacon, And Onion Mixture

Fill a large bowl halfway with cold water. Peel and rinse the potatoes and then place them in the cold water. Take a few potatoes from the water and roughly dice them. Return them to the cold water. Repeat this process until every potato is diced. Peel and dice the onion.

Remove the bacon from the pan and place it in a large bowl. Reserve the bacon drippings (about ⅜ cup).

Purée the onion in a blender with the milk. Using a slotted spoon or wok skimmer, fill the blender with potatoes and pureé until smooth. Pour this purée over the bacon. Continue puréeing all of the potatoes in the blender using the egg as the liquid for one batch and bacon drippings as the liquid for the other batch.

Stuffing Potato Mixture Into Sausage Casings

Stuffing Potato Mixture
Into Sausage Casings

Stir the mixture in the bowl each time you add purée to it. Sprinkle the seasoned salt, ground pepper, and flour over the purée and stir again.

If making kugelis, pour the potato mixture into a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Bake at 425° for 1 hour and 5 minutes. The kugelis is ready to serve when the top is golden brown when it starts pulling away from the sides of the baking pan.

Slice into squares and serve Lithuanian kugelis hot with a dollop of thick sour cream.

If making bulvių dešros (potato sausage), tie a knot in one end of the sausage casing and then slide the entire casing onto a funnel. Quickly fill the casing with the potato mixture while carefully squeezing the sausage to remove any air pockets that form. When the casing is filled, remove it from the funnel and knot the open end. Place the potato sausage in a greased 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Repeat this process with the other casing and place this sausage into a second greased baking pan of the same size.

Baked Lithuanian Kugelis

Baked Lithuanian Kugelis

Using a toothpick, gently poke holes in the sausage to allow air to escape while baking (one hole every six linear inches or so is plenty). Since ovens and potatoes vary, you may want to baste the sausage once or twice with a little water while it is baking. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour until the dasheries are golden brown.

Slice into large pieces and enjoy with a dollop of thick sour cream.

Gero apetito!

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16 comments
henowu
henowu

my best friend    got a    nearly new yellow    BMW 6 Series    Convertible    by working     part time 

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john turas
john turas

i'm 100% lithuanian and this recipe is all wrong. This recipe has to taste terrible. I'm 70 years old and i've been making it since I was 11. 

edbessette
edbessette

I am Lithuanian not by birth, @ 55 years of age, my family from Lithuania brought with them the potato pudding recipe, a pudding called kugelis, in which 1or 2 lbs of good side bacon with the grease, 4 onions, 10 lbs of white potatoes, 1 lb of good butter, 6 eggs each scrambled alone, then added to the mixture,  along with the starch of the potatoes once they were pressed, was used as well. It was all hand made. Cook the bacon crispy, chop onions, add to bacon along with the grease, add the butter to melt slowly as not to burn, my great uncle would finely shred his potatoes at the last minute then press them so the juice would end in a pan below the strainer, he then would incorporate all the ingredients with salt & pepper, then beat each egg and add each one as they were being beaten, mean while the starch would harden and then he would add the starch to the mixture at the end of the process combining all as a pudding put it all in the pan 

theresam58
theresam58

This recipe is all wrong....i have been making kugelis for over 25 yrs...and this is one of the lousier versions i have seen. Cant even imagine how awful this would taste...was the lugen drunk or ????? Lol

MaryJane Cooper
MaryJane Cooper

Christiana, thanks for your comment. I'm going to try my next batch with only two eggs and bake it in a cast iron skillet as Terry mentioned; we like the dish to be well-browned too. Thank you for posting the 'old' recipes :-)

MaryJane Cooper
MaryJane Cooper

Our recipe calls for four eggs to 5 lbs. potatoes - we use Yukon Gold - and no flour. I'm very curious as to the texture of your dish since it only contains one egg, and I don't particularly like eggs, so maybe I'll try using just one or two the next time. One of the shortcuts I use is cutting up the bacon with kitchen shears and browning it in the oven, plus pre-cooking the onion in the microwave before sautéing it in the bacon grease. Also, my Sis uses her blender to grind up the potatoes, but it doesn't do as good a job as a hand grater; I got a stainless steel grinder at Nantes in Italy for around $100, and it does a great job. Happy cooking!

Christiana
Christiana

MaryJane, our kugelis may be shorter and denser than those made with more eggs. Consistency seems to vary with the potatoes (how old they are and what type we use). We never used more than one egg and are always pleased with ours. Like with anything else, it's all in what we experienced and enjoyed while growing up!

theresam58
theresam58

I am amazed that u even posted that tecipe as "authentic" maybe u have never tasted TRUE KUGELIS.....but i cant even imagine how it would set up let alone taste...

mikeross48
mikeross48

@theresam58 So what is YOUR recipe, theresam58? Your criticisms are not worth anything unless you offer your alternative and explanation.

theresam58
theresam58

@mikeross48 @theresam58  My recipe is PRIVATE..I  ONLY give it out to friends and family and you sir are neither,,,,I am only 1/4 Lugan but the recipe I use came from my cousin who is currently 90 yrs. old and she got the recipe from HER grandmother so it is a VERY old family recipe well over 100 yrs.  so I can safely say it is good and has been well tested over many years.  LOL

My complaints are actually with the original recipe given in the first article....I use a lot more milk and ,more eggs than the first recipe. Quite a different ratio than their recipe gives  I also can't bake MY kugelis in only one hour..try 3-4 hrs total.  also no mention of the change in temp. needed to bake it properly..

As you can see mikeross48 I HAVE backed up my criticisms but I have NOT given my recipe to YOU or to the internet world.  and I won't because  I am just like the Italians who will never give out  their recipe for "their secret sauce"......to just anyone. Good try in trying to bait me but so sorry no cigar...LOL

PS just where is YOUR great recipe...don't see IT posted..pls. offer an explanation...?

mikeross48
mikeross48

@theresam58 @mikeross48 Thanks for your reply. I am not Lithuanian. Shortly before I wrote my note, I'd had kugelis for the first time ever (at Mabenka restaurant near Chicago's Midway Airport). It was delicious!

I love to cook, so I Googled around for recipes, finding this page and a few others. The various recipes (and comments) had quite a wide variation of many parameters. Given your passionate remarks above ("This recipe is all wrong ..."), I was interested in including your preferences/experiences in my amateur assessment of the various possibilities to come up with a recipe that I could use in my first attempt. The general details in your reply to my question are helpful.  Thanks very much!  (Obviously, I won't be able to tell how authentic my version will be ... just whether it's tasty and/or presentable.)

If I end up with a recipe I think worked well, I'll post it here, and would love your assessment/critique of it.

BTW, it's ironic that you mention the Italians. I've recently been documenting the family recipes of my next-door-neighbor's mother, who's from Abruzzo. It's quite fun to talk with her about the dishes that her mother (and her husband's mother) taught her ... and then taking photos and videos of her techniques.

Maybe we can share some in the future.

Many thanks -- Mike

kima1994
kima1994

@theresam58  i'm not sure why you feel the need to be so snarky with everyone. okay so you feel that the recipe you have is superior to everyone else's no one will ever know, since you won't share it, so really there was no reason for you to even speak about it in the first place unless it was just to make the poster feel bad. hope you feel good about that.

Terry
Terry

My mother used a hand cranked meat grinder to make this dish and favored salt pork to smoked bacon. I use a combination of the latter. She and I both prefer baking it in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Leftovers sliced and browned in butter are great with breakfast eggs.

theresam58
theresam58

I would really be interested in how the above recipe turned out....it eas nowhere near the one i have been using for over 25 yrs...

rnnurse90
rnnurse90

My mom, aunt, cousin and myself have been making kugelis for a very long time. My dad lived in Lithuania and he would give his stamp of approval to this recipe with the exception that we use 3-4 eggs per 5 lbs potatoes and evaporated milk. If the bacon isn't very fatty we add some butter to melt in with the bacon. And as mentioned before, we add the potato starch that has settled to the bottom of the bowl after potatoes have drained. I don't have an authentic potato grinder so I use a Vitamix. It works. There are probably as many variations as there are Lithuanian families....so, theresam58, why are your 1/4 Lithuanian panties in a knot? I am 100% and this recipe tasted just fine.