The first bread kugels made 800 years ago probably didn’t have more than a few raisins in them, and they definitely didn’t have sun-dried tomatoes, since tomatoes were first brought to Europe from the Americas in the sixteenth century!
This recipe combines many of the flavors and foods found in Spain and Portugal (the home of Sephardic Jews) with the classic technique for making a bread kugel.
- Sauté the onion in the olive oil until lightly golden. Add the celery and mushrooms, and sauté for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and have given up their juices. Set aside.
- Grease a 2-quart casserole or 11½ x 8-inch pan with some additional olive oil.
- Combine the chopped dried fruit, dried cranberries, apricot nectar, and Madeira in a small glass bowl, and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Combine the sun-dried tomatoes, almonds, and bread cubes in a 4-quart bowl.
- Mix the seasonings with the chicken broth and egg. Set aside.
- Add the onion mixture and the dried fruit/juice mixture to the bowl with the bread cubes and toss.
- Add the broth and egg mixture, and stir until the mixture is very moist and almost runny. If necessary, add a little more broth or nectar.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole, and bake at 350°F for 30–40 minutes.
The casserole can be baked for the first 25 minutes covered with foil, shiny side up. Then remove the foil for the remainder of the cooking time. This will give you a very soft stuffing.
- Do you think the Jews of Eastern Europe would use apricots and other dried fruits or apples,pears, and raisins? Why?
- Using popular, modern ingredients such as Madeira and sun-dried tomatoes along with dried cranberries in this classic form of kugel shows how recipes change over time with access to new and/or different available ingredients. Are there any family recipes that your relatives have changed because they couldn’t find a certain ingredient or because they liked one food more than another?
- How would you change this recipe to include ingredients you like that are available where you live?
- Don’t be put off by the number of ingredients. Each step can be worked on independently over the course of the day, covered, and then all combined before baking.
- Cream sherry or additional apricot nectar can be substituted for the Madeira if you prefer.
- Eliminating the sun-dried tomatoes reduces saltiness, so adjust the seasonings accordingly if you don’t include them.
- You may substitute 2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning mix for the individual herbs if you prefer.
This recipe, perfect for using as a stuffing for your Thanksgiving meal, is featured in Tina Wasserman's book Entree to Judaism for Families, filled with tools to help children learn to cook with confidence, with clear, step-by-step instructions for every recipe and tips for adults to make the experience safe and rewarding.