Do you, if only occasionally, nosh on a knish? I do, thanks to the plethora of Jewish delis in our area. Deli food is another of my so called comfort foods. In my opinion, the best sandwich available on the menu is good ole’ corned beef, on marbled rye, with a slim slice of swiss and small spattering of yellow mustard. No fuss… no muss.
Walking into a bustling deli in the colder months is a treat for the senses. First the eyes… the windows are typically fogged up from the simmering pots of soup and briskets. That constant blast of cold air from the door opening and closing sees to that! Then the nose… ahhh… the aromas. Chicken soup, corned beef, pastrami. The ears begin to hear the calling out of the orders from counter to kitchen. How they get my order right every single time, I can’t tell you. And finally, the drooling commences… one view through the counter glass gives sights of noodle kugel, potato knishes and pastries extraordinaire. Yummy!
Today I’m focusing on the knish. Essentially, knish are the hand pie of classic Jewish cuisine. The knishes I’m able to purchase are baked, though I understand, sometimes they are fried. They consist of a light pastry dough filled with mashed potatoes, vegetables or meat.
3 eggs (divided use)
6 Tablespoons canola oil (divided use)
1/2 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
2 cups AP flour
4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup onions, diced
1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped
Ground black pepper
In a large bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of the oil, the water, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the flour and knead together to form a smooth dough.
Divide the dough in two and wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
While the dough chills, prepare the filling.
Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and fill with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain thoroughly, then transfer the potatoes to a medium bowl. Mash the potatoes until mostly smooth. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until and starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir the onions into the potatoes, along with the thyme. Season well with salt and pepper.
Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll and stretch each piece until it is a long strip about 6 inches wide and 16 inches long. Spoon half of the potato filling mixture down the middle of each strip of dough, using your hands to smooth the mixture into an even mound.
Dip your finger tips in water and moisten the edges of the dough, then wrap both sides of the dough up and over the potato filling. Seal side of dough with fingers (the ends are left open).
Slice each piece of dough, which now should resemble filled tubes, into 8 pieces. Turn each piece onto its side and use the palm of your hand to flatten slightly. Working in batches of 8, arrange the pieces on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them.
In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water until foamy. Brush a bit of the egg mixture over each knish. Bake for 30 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.