I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I had to do research to find out what my old neighborhood in Chicago is being called today. As it turns out, I grew up in the “Lower West Side,” more recently referred to, in news reports, as “Pilsen.”
When I was growing up, we said that we came from “Saint Ann’s Parish,” alternately called the “Polish neighborhood.” All my Catholic friends-of-a-certain-age still talk about their childhood neighborhoods based upon the church they attended.
On many Sundays, after “church” and “dinner,” at about 2:00 p.m., we would carry our “skate cases” over to St. Stephen’s Roller Rink (about a half of a mile) into the “Lithuanian neighborhood.” Those cases were most often metal and decorated like antique leather trunks, complete with decals detailing the many roller rinks the case (and its owner) had visited.
It was in that neighborhood that I first encountered a Lithuanian delicacy called Kugelis. This is a potato pudding, also called potato pie or potato casserole. I recently found my mom’s recipe card for this decadent side dish and thought it would be fun to share that recipe with you today.
4 lbs white potatoes
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 lb bacon
1 sm. can evaporated milk (5 oz.)
1 cup regular milk
salt and pepper to taste
Peel and grate fine the potatoes and onion. Cut bacon in small pieces and fry until crisp. Pour fat and bacon over the potato-onion mixture. Beat eggs and add to the potato mixture. Add both milks, salt and pepper. Stir well. Pour into a greased 9 X 13 pan. Depth of potato mixture should be no less than 2 inches deep. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour until crispy brown on top and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve with a dollop of sour cream. Flavor is very similar to potato pancakes.