Uszka

Uszka

Polish Mini Pierogis aka Uszka

I did it!!! I finally mastered the art of the pelmeni. Yes I know, the title above says pierogi and technically that’s exactly what these are. However, to my eye a mini pierogi and an uszka look awfully identical and use the same dough (and yes, I know the dough below isn’t 100% traditional because of the sour cream a butter additions. They make a lighter, easier to work with dough though so they are staying in my kitchen). The only difference is the filling. These currently have a mushroom filling and traditional pelmeni have a meat filling. I am making those next for sure. Back story. I speak some Russian and I like to try to experiment with Russian food. So I tried the tasty sounding pelmeni recipe in my usually doesn’t fail me Russian Tearoom Cookbook. Alas, they were a complete and utter bust. Big, chewy, bland and generally tragic. I shelved the whole pelmeni idea for a good long while. Flash forward to this weekend. In my Postcrossing profile I ask for recipes along with a postcard if people are willing. A lovely woman from Poland sent me the recipe below and said these were a favorite of hers. Several years having passed since the first pelmeni debacle I was willing to try them. Plus, they are served in the Polish version of borsch and I was already planning on making that over the weekend. Clearly, the stars had aligned. So why not I thought. I googled around to see a number of different uszka recipes and generally learn more about them. The recipe below is what I consolidated everything on. And this time it worked! Happy dance. These were AMAZING. Light, tasty and plain adorable. They look like the picture of every expertly made pelmeni that I’ve ever seen. I am totally making these again with different fillings. On a day when I have lots of time.

Speaking of which…

A note about time: This recipe takes forever to make. Just a warning to set aside a minimum of two hours and don’t go crazy making too much dough or filling the first time lest your head explode. I halved the recipe below and it still took a full hour. There is a reason that you don’t set out to make these unless you plan to make a ton (might as well make enough for the year once you get started) These do however freeze beautifully and just pop them directly from the freeze to the boiling salted water. That is the reason to suffer through them. Not only do they taste amazing, but they can be a 10 min dinner if they are coming from the freezer. This is also why there are two traditional Russian ways to make pelmeni. The first is to invite over your best friend. Make several big batches of dough and spend the entire day chatting and stuffing pelmeni. At the end you should have about 500 little pelmeni (not an exaggeration)  to split between the two of you. The second method is to go to the freezer section of your local eastern European grocery store and buy them premade. They are almost as good as homemade and way faster to make.

Notes: Here are the tips that I learned for making fantastic pelmeni/uszki

  • Rest your dough. I rested mine for 1 hr and it really helped make it pliable.
  • Roll the dough as thinly as possible. Think dime thinness. My rule of thumb was if I could see my dark grey counter top coming through the dough was thin enough at last. Thin, thin, thin
  • Traditionally Russian use a juice glass to cut these out. I used a 2 in biscuit cutter and it worked beautifully.
  • Use a baby spoon (1/2 teaspoon roughly) to fill these. That will help make sure your don’t over fill them. Really with that sized cutter you want about a nickel sized lump of filling in each one.

Serves: 3-4 with a half of the below recipe

Freezes: Yes

Reheats: Yes

Kid Friendly Task: Folding Pelmeni

Dough Ingredients

  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 scant tablespoons sour cream (I tend not to measure sour cream because it mounds up so I would use one mounded tablespoon by my measurements)
  • 5 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1/4 cup warm water (potato water is even better if you’re making potato filling use the warm water you boiled the potatoes in)

Mushroom Filling

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound mushrooms, washed and finely chopped (I used shitake. Try to stay away from button mushrooms if possible)
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add water, sour cream, butter and salt. Sift the flour about 1/2 cup at a time into the bowl and mix after each addition. Keep adding flour and kneading until you get a soft, but not sticking dough that won’t take more flour. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for an hour.
  2. Meanwhile, make the filling. Heat butter and onions in a heavy bottom skillet over medium heat. Cook until the onions start to get translucent. Add the mushrooms and saute for about 8-10 mins or until the filling dries out a bit. Taste for salt and pepper. Turn off heat and add the drizzle of cream. Let cool.
  3. Grab an egg sized lump of dough. Roll it out as thinly as possible (1/8 inch kind of thin). Use a biscuit cutter or juice glass and cut circles out of the dough. Put a half tsp worth of mushroom filling in each circle and wet the edges all around with a bit of water. Fold over and seal tightly then wrap the two ends around your little finger and press. Viola, tortellini, err I mean pelmeni, err I mean uszki. Repeat over and over again until you’ve used up all of your dough. I lay a cookie sheet lined with wax paper out and line them up. They dry out ever so slightly and it makes it easier to bag the unused ones and freeze them. Otherwise cover with a slightly damp paper towel so they don’t dry out and get chewier on you.

 

By the way, don’t be tempted to over fill them in an effort to get this over with. They will just explode when you cook them and leak filling everywhere. Also, don’t be too quick to grab a bigger hunk of dough. I find much larger than egg sized really hard to get thin enough. Pick a day when you’re feeling patient to do this one.

4. Cook in boiling, salted water for about 10 mins. They will float to the top and puff up. Drain and coat in melted butter and sour cream.

5. These are great with borsch or in borsch.

Tip. I save all of the left over dough bits (because you can’t really reroll this dough) chop them coarsely and add them to chicken noodle soup. So good!

Uszka

Uszka

Enjoy!

 

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