Spiced Roast Chicken Thighs & Browned Onion Kugel

I feel like I’ve been exposed to a variety of cuisines, from Ethiopian stew in Berkeley, California, to Sri Lankan fare in downtown Osaka, and a fiery Korean chicken dish straight from the source in Seoul. But it wasn’t until I was given browned onion Kugel as my side dish for the Recipe Swap this week that I realized I’d been missing out on the wide range of Jewish dishes out there! As I was researching Kugel (which seemed like a good place to start, since I didn’t even know how to pronounce it, let alone what was in it), I learned that there are both sweet and savory versions of this noodle pudding, and they involve egg noodles (or potatoes or Matzah), sour cream, cottage cheese, and eggs.  Even Smitten Kitchen has a Kugel recipe on her blog. Clearly, I’ve been out of the loop (or just not Jewish)! Once I did my research, I couldn’t stop thinking about my side dish. It sounded so comforting to me and I couldn’t wait to try it.

But what do you serve with Kugel? I had no idea (Jewish friends, please weigh in here!), although I was smart enough to know that pork was not the right answer, nor was something involving bacon. We decided on a simple roasted chicken dish (that I found it on Elly Says Opa, adapted from Gourmet), and some roasted broccoli. Not exactly kosher, so I hope it doesn’t offend someone’s Jewish Grandmother. Actually, what I really want now is for someone’s Jewish Grandmother to cook me a traditional Jewish meal. My first taste of Kugel was so good, I would love to experience more (including the sweet variety) and expand my cuisine repertoire to include that of the Jewish tradition.

This recipe, coincidentally, came from the same blog as my last Recipe Swap recipe, Happy Insides. The Kugel is baked in muffin tins, rather than the traditional casserole dish, and includes caramelized onions and poppy seeds. We’ll definitely be making this recipe again. The only changes we made were halving it (the recipe below makes 12 side-dish servings) and using ricotta cheese in place of cottage cheese. Thanks again, Cassie & Jason, for introducing us to something new!

Browned Onion Kugel

(From Happy Insides, originally from Epicurious)

6 oz. egg noodles
1 stick unsalted butter
3 cups chopped onions (2 large)
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 1/4 cups cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)
1 TBS. poppy seeds
4 large eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Cook egg noodles in boiling, salted water until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain in colander, rinse with cool water, and drain well.
  • Melt the butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat.  Brush the muffin cups with some of the butter.  Add the onions to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer onions to a large bowl, and stir in noodles, sour cream, cottage cheese (or ricotta), and poppy seeds. Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the eggs to the noodle mixture as well. Stir to combine.
  • Divide mixture among muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, about 20-25 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before serving. Makes 12 side-dish servings, or 6-8 main course servings.

Spiced Roast Chicken Thighs

(Adapted from the April 2000 issue of Gourmet)

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 TBS. canola oil, divided*
3 TBS. red wine (or broth)

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Pat the chicken dry. Mix together the spices and 1/2 TBS. of canola oil.  Rub all over the chicken.
  • Heat the remaining oil in a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over moderate heat until hot but not smoking.  Brown chicken on both sides, about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer skillet to oven and continue to cook, skin-side up, until done, about 12-18 minutes.
  • Remove chicken and place skillet on stove-top over high heat.  Deglaze pan with wine or broth, scraping up browned bits, and pour juices over chicken. Serves 2.

* So what made this chicken extra-delectable was that we browned the chicken thighs in duck fat. Yes, you read that right. Last weekend we made some amazing tea-smoked duck (to-be-blogged-about soon!) and the next day we fried some of the leftover skin to make duck cracklings. That rendered fat was was used in this chicken. Oh my gosh. So good.

10 thoughts on “Spiced Roast Chicken Thighs & Browned Onion Kugel

  1. Glad you liked the chicken! The kugel looks awesome. I like kugel, but only the savory versions. There’s just something about sweet noodles I can’t really do.

  2. The recipe looks delicious! It would offend a Jewish grandmother serving it with chicken though. Jewish food is generally eaten (at least by Jews) without mixing milk and meat, a basic part of keeping kosher.

  3. I think you made the right choice! Kugel is a side dish, usually served with a main course like chicken or brisket. Although, dairy-based kugels are often served for brunches too (especially because people who keep kosher would not eat milk and meat together.) Glad you liked it! It’s funny, I have a hard time explaining what kugel is because its such a general term- as you’ve discovered, there are so many different kinds! I liken the very sweet, custard-based kugels to a bread pudding or french toast casserole, almost.

  4. Thanks, Cara! Yours was actually one of the blogs I went to to see an example recipe. That one you had for a party w/ a tropical flair sounded good!

  5. I’m glad to hear you liked the kugel. We usually serve it with a chicken side dish, but we do not keep kosher (obviously given all the bacon on our blog).

  6. This whole dish rocks. I love it. I love the spiced roast chicken thighs and I absolutely love the browned onion kugel. I have to figure out what day to make this but I will definitely be making it. Wonderful post.

  7. This is a dairy kugel — traditionally it’d be served with fish or a vegetarian meal. Comments about tradition aside, it looks amazing! For a traditional kugel to be paired with meat, you could try salt-and-pepper kugel (with noodles and margarine or oil) or any one of the vegetable kugel varieties, substituting margarine or oil for butter.

    Here are some Yiddish words about keeping kosher (religious diet):
    Milchadik — A food with dairy products in it. This cannot be eaten with meat, but can be eaten with fish. The onion kugel above is “milchadik.”
    Pareve — A food with neither milk nor meat. It is “neutral.” A vegetable dish prepared with margarine or oil is “pareve.”
    Fleishadik — A food with meat products in it. This cannot be eaten with any milchadik foods. The roast chicken is “fleishadik”.

    Religious Jews often have two sets of silverware and dishware — one milchadik and one fleishadik. Super religious Jews sometimes even have two sinks, two ovens, and two dishwashers! I once went to a synagogue that even had two kitchens!

    Whooo…fun facts!

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