Several weeks ago, kiddo’s school held their annual Taste of Nations food event. Kiddo goes to a private Catholic school now (a result of a very difficult beginning at her usual public school last Fall) and we are loving it. They do fun events like this Taste of Nations regularly and it brings back memories of mine and Sis Blogging Partners own Catholic school days. Taste of Nations, if you can guess, is where parents cook dishes from designated countries. Kiddo’s class was assigned Lithuania. This was cool because I’d never tried anything from that area. Scary also for the same reason! I admit I looked for a fairly simple recipe, but the result was incredibly delicious, so much so that I can see it becoming a regular item with us.
I took a few extra hours off of work to ensure I’d have plenty of time to make two kugelis dishes for kiddo’s school event. Their principal told me they often run out of food there, and I wanted to truly “do my part”. Doing my part involved doubling the recipe and making two that way.
Might I just go ahead and suggest you don’t ever do this? Making two at once? If you just have to, fine, go right on and do it. But….prepare yourself because it just makes the most labor-intensive part of the prep process that much more intensive.
As I had started making this the first time, I noticed something that should have been obvious a heck of a lot sooner – people, this Lithuanian recipe is basically a Southern U.S. eater’s casserole dream come true! It’s potatoes, bacon, onions and eggs. Um, we like to call such goodness around here “hashbrown casserole”, in one varying way or another. It’s no wonder I chose it!
We interrupt this blog post to once again pimp one of the best kitchen tools I’ve ever splurged on – a food processor. My Cuisinart 11-cup processor was actually not even that expensive either when I consider how much it’s been used and its never ending usefulness as a result. It’s more than paid for itself and it was a little over $100. The preparation of the potatoes is what takes the longest in this recipe, and while it’s not hard work, using a food processor to shred them makes it much easier and quicker.
Once the potatoes are shredded (done in batches), place them in a large bowl filled with water to prevent them turning brown. The starch in the water may begin to turn brown during this time, but the potatoes themselves will stay white. Why have them stay white? So your overall end result isn’t a sickly, gray-ish brown. Supposedly it will still taste good, it just may not look appetizing.
Once the potatoes are ready to be added to the eggs and milk (which will also keep the uncooked potatoes from browning), you’ll need to, of course, squeeze a lot of water out of them. See what I mean about part of this being just a little labor intensive? Again, not hard, just…you gotta do it! I started by squeezing out as much as I could stand by hand.
You’ll need some paper towels to finish squeezing as much water out as possible, much like getting the water out of frozen spinach. If you prefer, you can use a nice sized stack of clean kitchen towels for this part as opposed to the paper towels.
Bacon, and plenty of it that you cooked earlier, gets added to the goodness.
Next up -onions. Notice how they obviously were cooked after the bacon in some of the leftover bacon grease. Don’t skip that step! The bacon grease gives it all added flavor.
Time to pour this in your prepped baking dish! You can either butter your dish prior to this step or use nonstick cooking spray. Just be sure to do one or the other as, not only will it not stick and your dish clean easier, the sides will get so nice and crisp.
Go ahead and smooth out the top a little. We’re not shooting for complete perfection, just a bit of uniformity.
The results are, quite frankly, heavenly. This recipe is another champion for simplistic ingredients making the best in delicious, comforting meal options. Plus, bacon, so WIN.
A little bit of cooling enables the casserole to hold together better when it’s time for serving. Of course, by the time I got this to kiddo’s school, it was room temperature, and it was pretty good that way, but it is best when warm. Leftovers were spectacular. The flavor seemed almost a little better the next day and it reheated great in the microwave. Normally I reheat these kinds of things in the oven, but the ‘ole microwave did the trick. If you’re not opposed to sour cream, put a dollop on and prepare for tongue wagging heaven. After tasting this, the work of shredding and de-watering the potatoes felt totally worth it. It makes a lot, too, so it’s perfect for taking to a pot luck or bigger breakfast groupings, like at a bed and breakfast. And last, but not least, it’s a versatile meal – it’s perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner and will go well with lots of other dishes. Enjoy!
adapted from Serious Eats
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes Level: Easy Serves: 8-10
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 8 large russet potatoes
- 1 pound bacon
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 8 eggs beaten
- 1 cup milk
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- Sour cream for serving, optional
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a deep 13 x 9 inch baking dish or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Grate the potatoes in batches either using the grater attachment in a food processor or use a hand-held grater or box grater. Place grated potatoes in a bowl of cold water as you grate.
Cook bacon over medium high heat until bacon is crisp and fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Chop or crumble when cooled. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat, return pan to medium heat, and add chopped onion. Cook until onions are soft and brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.
Combine beaten eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper. Remove a handful of grated potatoes from water and, squeezing some water out first by hand, then place in center of clean dishtowel or paper towels. Close towel around potato and twist towel to ring out water. Add drained potatoes to egg/milk mixture and repeat with remaining potatoes. Add chopped bacon and onions to potato mixture and, using a wooden spoon, mix until all ingredients are well combined; pour into prepared baking pan. Place in preheated oven and bake until potatoes are soft and brown and beginning to crisp, about 1 hour. Serve with sour cream and sliced scallions.
Do be sure to note that I doubled this recipe from its original, so it’s easily downsized if you want to do so. Also, as a reminder, it’s great leftover, so if you make it as is above, and there is any leftover, more for you!
The chopping and grating is what takes the longest. Save a little time and chop the bacon and onions ahead. Keep them in food-safe containers in the fridge till ready to use. A day or so ahead is fine.
I have not prepared any of this ahead of time, chilled and baked later yet, but next time I may make it all to the point it’s ready to be baked, cover and refrigerate till the next morning and bake then. This way it’s, hopefully, warm and tasty for breakfast.
The casserole will puff up a little while baking, hence the need for a “deep” dish. At least two inches tall should do.