This is it, compadres! This is the food that represents my cultural identity. Thus far, at least. Sourdough rye corn dogs, beet fries, and sauerkraut-topped burgers: all improbable, but not impossible. (And you know I’d try all of the above… Sometimes I think it’s a good thing I don’t have that much free time on my hands.)
Ironically enough, I was trying to post these before Passover (success!), even though I’m exactly 0% Jewish as far as I know, and these waffles, as presented, are obviously not kosher. See Exhibit A above.
It just so happens that Lithuanian food is influenced quite a bit by Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine. Potato kugel was always a staple when I was growing up. It’s cheap, it’s easy to prepare, and it’s the ideal hearty dinner for those brutal short days when it gets dark at 3:30. Then, of course, we top it all off with sour cream, sauteed onions, and crispy bacon bits. Everyone lives happily ever after.
This is where we cross from Jewish cuisine over to Lithuanian: the corner of Pork and Bacon. Bacon and onion is basically the Lithuanian mirepoix or sofrito. We can’t cook without it. However, if you do keep kosher, or otherwise don’t eat pork, feel free to skip it. There’s plenty going on here without it.
I was actually kind of shocked that this worked, expecting a gluey, sloppy mess instead. I owe this successful experiment to this recipe on Serious Eats, which calls for way more eggs than I would expect. I can’t say I have a family recipe to work from (my mom would probably laugh if I asked, because it’s such a simple dish), but I definitely remember the dough being pale, starchy, and not this yellow. Arthur Schwartz, creator of the OG Serious Eats recipe, made these tweaks to avoid the dense heaviness kugel can have, which is helpful in a “will it waffle” situation.
I also fortified the dough with the potato starch that settles into the bottom of the bowl after straining the potatoes. Schwartz discards it in his version, but anytime my family ever cooked with raw potatoes (often), that stuff was treated like pure gold, baby. My childhood lessons were essentially this:
(1) Look both ways before crossing the street;
(2) Don’t cut your own bangs with your tiny kid scissors because your spacial perception and fine motor skills are wack and KNOW YOUR LIMITS, CHILD; and
(3) Don’t throw away the potato starch.
Guess which one I learned the hard way.
I would love to try this again with fewer eggs for a more potato-forward flavor, but that’s a slippery, possibly disappointing slope. I’ll keep you posted on any developments but for now, I can’t think of a better option for your next breakfast or brunch — for Passover, for Easter, or for any other day, with bacon or without bacon.
As we all know by now, there is no excuse needed to just see what happens when cold sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh chives meet a steamy potato waffle.
Spoiler alert: it’s B-E-A-utiful.
- 12 ounces bacon (optional)
- 4 medium Russet potatoes
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 6 eggs
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into chunks
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or matzoh meal--I haven't tried that, though)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil, for waffle iron
- Sour cream, for serving
- Chives, scallions, or sautéed yellow onions, for serving
- Cut the bacon into 1/2-inch pieces and fry in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until cooked to your liking (I got mine pretty crispy). Drain, reserve the fat for greasing the waffle iron, and set aside.
- Peel the potatoes and cut into large chunks, then immediately submerge in cold water to keep them from oxidizing (turning dark).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and set aside.
- In a food processor, pulse the onion chunks until finely chopped. Stir into the eggs.
- Drain the potatoes and use the same food processor bowl to process the potatoes in batches (2 should be sufficient, depending on the size of your processor). Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add some lemon juice (half of it, if you're working in two batches), and process again until finely pureed. Transfer to a strainer placed over a bowl and press to squeeze as much moisture out as possible. If you have a cheesecloth, line the strainer with it, and once all the potatoes are processed, squeeze out as much moisture as you can.
- Add the potatoes to the egg mixture, followed by the flour, salt, pepper, and most of the bacon pieces (reserve a little for topping, if you'd like). Stir until well combined.
- Preheat a waffle iron and grease with the bacon grease you reserved earlier (or vegetable oil). Drop a 1/4 cup of kugel batter (this may depend on the size of your waffle iron, so experiment to find what works best) onto each grid. Cooking them will take longer than typical waffles — just watch for when there's less steam escaping the sides of the waffle iron. This yielded 12-13 waffles on my big Belgian waffle iron, so the recipe will feed 6-4 people, depending on how hungry they are.
- Serve immediately topped with sour cream and/or crispy bacon bits and/or chives and/or scallions and/or sautéed yellow onion.