Sunday, December 28, 2008

A meal or a side order? Who cares, it's delicious - Ukrainian knedliky recipe

The holidays are passing under the flag of excessive eating and cooking. Probably the same for everyone. I already have a camera full of pictures of wonderful meals I've had, so in order not to completely loose track, I decided to try and stick to the order of preparing.
So here is one of my childhood favorites. I made it about a week or a week and a half ago for the first time after at least 10 years if not more. When I was a kid my mom used to make them often. She has a Ukrainian friend who introduced us to the dish and to the recipe. As it usually is with Slavic cuisine, it is a major pain to prepare (time consuming and handicraft-heavy - I think I've already introduced my theory of the Slavic cuisine as an element in the larger system of suppressing the unnecessary free will of Slavic women in this blog, haven't I? :) ), but oh so worth it.
They're mashed-potato dumplings (basically similar to Italian gnocchi or German spätzle) called knedliky or kniedliky and it's a little hard to place them in terms of whether they're a full meal in themselves (a vegetarian, but very filling one) or a side dish for some meat. Works both ways, but beware, they're quite filling on their own.

Ukrainian kniedliky and two typical ways of eating them (Ukraina knedlikud ja kaks moodust, kuidas neid süüa):
makes two trays (serves 4 people at least twice)

One usually uses some leftover mashed potatoes to make kniedliky, but of course you can preoare the mashed-potatoes from scracth.
6 medium to large waxy potatoes
2 large carrots (optional)
a large knob of butter (1 tbsp)
1/2 glass of warm milk
freshly ground salt
2 tsp of olive oil
2 eggs
~6-10 tbsp flour

for serving:
chopped and fried onion
sour cream

or:
fresh cucumber and tomato
sour cream

Prepare the mashed potatoes, boil the potatoes and carrots until tender. Drain the water and steam away all the remains of it. Add the butter and mash the potatoes. Add the warm milk and season with salt. In the end drizzle in the olive oil and mash some more until smooth and silky. It should be of the consistency of regular mashed potatoes you'd serve with a meal (in case you use an electric whisk or blitz the mash into a puree, make sure it is not too runny).
Add the eggs to the mashed potatoes and mix thoroughly. Start adding the flour and mixing it in. The secret to good kniedliky is that they have the least possible amount of flour in them. That way they'll be silky and soft after cooking. Yet in order for you to be able to roll and prepare them they have to have enough flour in them not to break and not to be insanely sticky. So it's a balancing act.
When you think you have enough of flour - the dough seems like you can roll it with your hands without it hopelessly sticking to your fingers sprinkle some flour on a counter top and some on a tray.

Take about 1/5 of the dough - a good handful - and roll it into a fat sausage (diameter about 3-4 cm) with your hands. Then place it on te floured counter-top and slightly flatten with your hand. You should have a roll that is about 4-5 cm wide and about 1 cm thick. Start slicing it into about 1 cm slices. Roll each slice so it will look like a finger or a mozarella-stick. Place the dumplings on a floured tray, the looser they're placed the more likely it is that you'll be able to detach them from the tray without mutilating them when it is time to cook them.

When all the kniedliky are ready, bring a pot of water to a boil and add some salt. Start boiling the kniedliky in batches, at one time you can boil approximately so many as it'd take to loosely cover the bottom of the pot. You know that they're ready when they float on top. When they're ready, take them out and place them in a bowl, if you're not eating them immediately, it's good to smear them with a knob of butter stuck on a fork, this will make sure that they don't stick to each other.

There are two ways of eating them. One is freshly boiled served with sour cream and fresh veggies (or no veggies).

The other typical way is to chop an onion and fry it until golden, then add the pre-boiled kniedliky to the pan and fry until golden. Serve with sour-cream again.

1 comment:

_ts of [eatingclub] vancouver said...

Oooh, looks potato-y good.

"...Slavic cuisine as an element in the larger system of suppressing the unnecessary free will of Slavic women."

LOL, that is too funny. Sometimes we have the same theory about other cuisines too. ;D