These traditional Polish Christmas Eve Porcini Dumplings (Uszka) are served hot with borscht as the first dish of the Christmas Eve meal.
POLISH CHRISTMAS EVE PORCINI DUMPLINGS (USZKA)
As promised yesterday I am posting my recipe for Polish Christmas Eve Porcini Dumplings (Uszka). The name ‘uszka’ in Polish means ‘little ears’, which refers to the shape of these dumplings. Don’t worry if your batch doesn’t exactly look like a bunch of ears inside a bowl, it’s not the most appetising description anyway! As long as you make them small and compact and neat looking they’ll be fine.
Pierogi Dough Recipe
I’ve included a few photos of the actual process of making the dumplings (below), which I hope you will find useful. Despite my somewhat lengthy instructions (which is unusual for me, I promise not to do it too often:) they are actually not very difficult to make. I used my tried and tested pierogi dough recipe to make these dumplings. It is very elastic and easy to work with and I recommend rolling it out very thinly so the dumplings are not too doughy. (They should be more about the mushrooms than the dough). The dough is quite strong and won’t tear easily. Promise! I know this is the second time I’ve made a promise in the same paragraph (!) but I keep my word! I trust this recipe completely.
*NOTE: Do make sure you stick the edges of each dumpling together really well so they don’t open up in the pot.
Check out my Pierogi recipes which use the same dough!
Mushroom Filling for Uszka
The mushroom filling in this recipe is very easy to make. Start by briefly soaking the mushrooms, rinsing and then cooking them for about 30 minutes in a small amount of water. Then strain the mushrooms (reserving the water to add to your Polish Christmas borscht recipe or another soup/stew recipe), and puree with the rest of the ingredients. You will have to fry the onions before adding to the filling.
I am using a bit of soy sauce in the filling, which, as you have probably guessed, is not a traditional ingredient used in the uszka recipe! I use it as it adds depth and savouriness to this recipe. I also use it in my Christmas borscht recipe.
As for the porcini mushrooms, they can be quite pricey in the big supermarkets. So if there is a Polish delicatessen where you live you are then you are in luck as the porcini will be much cheaper there. All the Polish delicatessens stock dried wild mushrooms, especially in the months leading up to Christmas.
How to make Uszka
- For the dough:
- 350 g flour plus more for dusting
- 3/4 cup hot water approx. 180ml
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Pinch of salt
- For the filling:
- 50 g dried porcini mushrooms
- 1/2 onion finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
To make the dough place the flour and butter on your work surface and start combining using a large knife, gradually adding the water into the middle and gathering up the mixture with the knife to prevent the water from escaping. When the dough starts to come together and all the water has been added knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Cover the dough with a cloth/tea towel and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
To make the filling soak the mushrooms in water for 10 minutes, drain and rinse well. Place in a saucepan, pour just enough water to cover the mushrooms, cover with a lid, bring to boil and simmer for about 30 minutes. You may have to add more water during the cooking so the mushrooms don't burn.
Heat up the oil and fry the onion on a low heat for 2-3 minutes until it's softened, stirring occasionally (do not brown it!). Set aside.
Once the mushrooms have been cooked drain any excess liquid (which you can use in a soup or stew), combine the mushrooms with the onion, soy sauce and seasoning and puree until the mixture becomes sticky (it can still have bigger bits of mushrooms or onion in it). Add the breadcrumbs and stir thoroughly. Taste the mixture and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Divide the dough in 2 or 3 parts (easier to work with) and roll out one part (keeping the other 2 covered) on a lightly floured surface as thinly as possible (don't worry, the dough is quite elastic and won't tear easily). Using a glass with a diameter of approximately 6 cm make round shapes (gather up the excess dough and add to the other dough part). See the photos.
Place a small amount of the filling in the middle of each dough circle (if the dough is sticking to the work surface use a knife to help it come off but take care not to tear it). With tips of your fingers stick the edges of the dumpling together and bring the ends towards each other and stick together too (your fingertips should be dry so it's a good idea to keep a sheet of paper towel near you to wipe them if they get sticky).
Place the dumplings on a lightly floured surface.
Fill a large pot with salted water, cover and bring to boil. Continue making the dumplings as you are waiting for the water to boil. When the water starts boiling carefully place the dumplings in the pot one by one (don't overcrowd the pot, do this in batches if you have to) and quickly but carefully stir with a wooden spoon. When the dumplings come up to the surface cook them for another minute, switch off the heat and using a slotted spoon transfer them onto a large plate. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve!
Serve hot, 4-5 per one portion of the borscht.
If you don't want to serve them straight away place the dumplings in an oven proof dish (the oil will prevent them from sticking to one another) and keep in the fridge (up to 3 days) until they are ready to be reheated (in the same dish)-cover with tin foil and reheat in the oven.
Any leftover dough can be used to make other dumplings, such as cheese and potato, and sauerkraut (links in Recipes/Categories/Polish Recipes)
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