Photo Credit: Jewish Press

My sister jokes that when we grew up potato kugel was a vegetable. Shortly after getting married, I was shocked to discover that I couldn’t duplicate my mother’s kugel no matter how hard I tried. I blamed it on the recipe, which was a hodgepodge of muscle memory and a salty pinch of fairy dust.

Theories for my failure abounded. I discovered that there were two types of potatoes, waxy and starchy. The waxy ones were firm and held their shape well when cooked, which made the starchy ones better for baking. I tried multiple variants of starchy potatoes. I hand-grated. I bought a special pan. I added boiling water before baking and preheated the oil. Finally, I gave up and began making roasted baby potatoes for our Friday afternoon pre-Shabbos treat.


Waxy is a peculiar word which can also mean flexible and yielding; an elusive but desirable character trait whose development has allowed me to grudgingly accept that it’s okay that I don’t have the potato kugel gene. That being said, if anyone has a foolproof recipe for potato kugel, please let me know.

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Dr. Chani Miller is an optometrist and writer who lives in Highland Park, N.J., with her family. She is a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press.