Adapted from Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France, by Joan Nathan
Bosc Pears and Italian Blue Plums (dried for use in the winter) are fruits that were most often put into kugel. This very old Alsatian Sabbath kugel uses leftover bread that is soaked in water, squeezed to remove any excess moisture, and then mixed with the dried or fresh fruit and left to stew in the oven overnight. Some, like this version, include onions, which add a savory dimension to the sweetness of the fruit and the dough. I love this dish, which I serve in my home for Rosh Hashanah and the Sabbath as a side dish with brisket.
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds (4 cups) ripe Bosc pears
2 small onions (about 1/2 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 loaf white bread (about 7 ounces)
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter or parve margarine, melted
3 large eggs
1 12 cups pitted prunes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9-inch springform pan with 2 tablespoons of the oil.
Peel the pears, and cut all but one of them into 1-inch dice.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. Lightly sauté the onions until they are translucent. Remove from the heat, salt lightly, and allow them to cool slightly.
Soak the bread for a few seconds in lukewarm water, and squeeze dry. Put in a large bowl and, using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix with 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the butter or parve margarine. Stir in the eggs, the onions, and half of the diced pears, setting aside the remaining pears for the sauce.
Pour the batter into the spring form pan, and bake for 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 hours.
While the kugel is cooking, make the sauce. In a heavy saucepan set over medium-high heat, put 1 cup water, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, the prunes, cinnamon, lemon juice, and the remaining diced pears. Cook this compote mixture uncovered for 30 minutes.
Finely grate the reserved whole pear and stir it into the cooked compote.
When the kugel is done, remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool for about 20 minutes. Unmold from the pan onto a serving platter, and spoon half of the compote over it. Serve the remaining compote on the side.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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