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2 small or 1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound red or Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and left whole
½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 organic free-range eggs
1½ tablespoons lemon juice
4 pounds baking potatoes (such as russet)
4 tablespoons ground almonds
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt; ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, and grease a 10-by-14-inch pan. Alternatively, you can line it with parchment paper.
In a small frying pan, gently cook the onion in 1 tablespoon of the oil until soft but not colored. Meanwhile, boil the red or Yukon gold potatoes in their skins for about 15 minutes until almost tender but not soft. Drain and set aside. Scrape the softened onion into a food processor, add the parsley and eggs, and purée until smooth. Scrape into a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice. (If you don't have a processor, simply finely chop the parsley and mix with the beaten eggs and cooked onion.)
Peel the baking potatoes and grate them on the coarse side of a grater into the bowl with the lemon and egg mixture. Mix well with your hands, taking care that the potato is coated with the lemon and egg mixture; the lemon will stop the potato from oxidizing and turning black. Mix in the ground almonds, sugar, and salt and pepper, and pour into the prepared pan. Thickly slice the boiled red or Yukon gold potatoes and arrange them over the top. Brush with the remaining oil and season with more salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour until slightly puffed up and golden.
Variation 1: For mashed potato kugel, omit the baking potatoes and use 5 pounds red or Yukon gold potatoes instead. Peel the potatoes and boil them in water or stock until tender. Drain, season, and mash until smooth. Meanwhile, slice 2 large onions and gently cook them in 1 tablespoon olive oil until soft but not colored. Set aside to cool and then beat in 4 egg yolks. Combine the onion and egg mixture with the mashed potato. Whisk 4 egg whites until stiff and fold in carefully. Spoon the mixture into a greased dish, top with grated cheese (optional-only for a milchig or made of milk or dairy meal), and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour as before.
Variation 2: Potato pompons These crisp, golden baked balls are the easiest recipe in the world. Season leftover mashed potato with plenty of salt and pepper, but do not add milk or butter. Form into large balls, about the size of a tennis ball. Arrange on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. (If you have a surplus of mashed potato, simply freeze the formed pompons on a baking sheet and transfer to a plastic bag once they are frozen so they will be ready to bake another day.)
Tester's note: Potatoes are staples in many cuisines, including in Ireland. Parsley adds flecks of green to the finished dish. For even more color, use leeks instead of onions.
This recipe is from "Jewish Traditional Cooking: Over 150 Nostalgic & Contemporary Recipes," by Ruth Joseph and Simon Round (Kyle Books, $29.95).