#42 Date selected: 11/9/16 Date completed: 23/10/16
Country selected: Lithuania
Dining Selection: Cooked Own
What was on the menu/recipe address:
- Kugeli Lithuanian Potato Casserole
One of three Baltic states, Lithuania is situated in Northern Europe, along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea. To the west lies Sweden & Denmark, Latvia to the north, Poland to the south, Belarus to the east and south and a Russian exclave called Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest.
The country has a rich history with many ties to its European neighbours. It was only in 1990 however, that Lithuania declared itself independent (the first Soviet republic to do so). I was surprised to learn that, in recent times, the country has been amongst the fastest growing economies in the European Union and is ranked 21st in the world in the East of Doing Business Index (whatever that is).
have to admit that I didn’t know a lot about Lithuania when I started this challenge (to be honest, I’m only moderately more informed now). My knowledge was restricted to the fact that they ate a lot of potatoes and have been serious contenders for the Eurovision Song Contest. They will always live in my memory as the boy band entry with sparkly shorts who were robbed in the 2010 semi final and the birthplace of Donny Montell (yes, Eurovision is quite the thing even down here in Australia!).
It’s not just potatoes that features heavily in Lithuanian cuisine however – anything suited to the cold is utilized, including barley, rye, berries, mushrooms, greens and beats. Dairy is also a speciality. Due to its position, some similarities can be found to Scandinavian cuisine, however it has its own distinguishing features.
For this challenge I decided on a classic dish – Kugeli or potato casserole. I kind of describe it as a giant hash brown on crack –totally delicious and seriously moreish. It’s also incredibly simple.
You brown bacon and onions in butter, add this to a heap of grated potatoes, along with some mil and seasoning. You add some beaten eggs and put the mixture into a casserole dish and straight into the oven for an hour or so.
Let me just say, if you’re looking for some amazing comfort food over winter, look no further! It’s difficult to see in the picture, but when first taken out of the oven the crust of the casserole had tiny pockets where the fat had bubbled up and settled into. The potato softens and is melt in your mouth, apart from the crust around the edges which is deliciously crunchy. The bacon gives it a nice richness and cuts through the starchiness of the potato. So so good.
Apparently this dish doesn’t freeze very well but I can attest to the fact that, while losing a bit of its texture, the taste deepens when kept in the fridge overnight.
Definitely one I’m keeping on the list to make again next winter. But first, onto another challenge….