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Ingredients

Adjust Servings:
For the Dough
1 Large eggs lightly beaten
2/3 cup water
2 1/2 - 3 cups (300-350 g) all purpose flour + more to dust surface
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
For the Filling
1/2 lb white potato peeled and chopped
4 oz shallots thinly sliced
4 oz bacon thick cut quality bacon
to taste salt and pepper
To serve
butter
sour cream

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Ukraine: Varenyky

Filled Dumplings

Cuisine:

Ingredients

  • For the Dough

  • For the Filling

  • To serve

Directions

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I’ll start this one with a little fun fact: I never went to my own high school prom, but I’ve been to prom in the Ukraine!

The summer after I graduated from high school, I convinced my parents to let me spend two weeks in the Ukraine visiting my best friend Masha’s family. Actually, I don’t recall that convincing my parents took a whole lot of work, but Mom wasn’t too happy when I discovered shortly before the trip that I’d lost my passport and would need to go all the way to Boston to have one expedited in time to apply for a Visa. Regardless, we made it happen and off I went.

I honestly remember seemingly little about the trip, and the things I remember are fairly random:

Masha’s dad drove really fast, but that was okay because he was a cop.

We picked up a unique cake on the trip from the airport.  I couldn’t tell you exactly what it was, but it had a crunchy layer and I liked it.  I think I recall it being large, and lasting us most the week.

“Pokazhy meni sviy hui” does not mean “hello my name is.”

I remember being homesick because even as a fairly well-traveled kid, it was the first place I ever went that no one spoke my language (except Masha of course).

We went to prom as a group. We quickly discovered that the dance moves we were used to (do the kids still call it “grinding”?) hadn’t made it to Eastern Europe yet. Suddenly there were many dads eager to record their kid’s prom.

One night we all went out to a club to dance and accidentally missed the last train back. We must have walked for at least 4 hours, arriving back to Masha’s grandmother’s house after the sun had come up.

I remember being glad that Masha didn’t tell me about the girl who had gone missing and later turned up in a sewage drain until after that night.

Another thing I remember – and regret – is what a picky eater I was at that time. I lived most of those two weeks on McDonald’s vanilla soft serve cones, returning home significantly skinnier.  I refused to try the shawerma Masha would get nearly everyday from a food truck – although I am sure I would now love it.

And lastly, I remember that Masha’s grandmother’s freezer was full of filled dumplings – one of the few non-ice cream foods I ventured to eat while I was there – and liked.

13 years later, I am anything but a picky eater. As I paged through my cookbook of recipes from Ukraine and Eastern Europe, I found myself instead struggling to decide which recipe to make because they all looked so good. The beautiful Ukranian borshch particularly caught my eye. But ultimately, I decided to make varenyky because I fondly remembered them served to us by Masha’s kind and generous grandma – and because my cookbook’s author describes them as “my death row wish, my last supper, my ultimate source of comfort.”

Honestly, these were delicious. There are a number of other fillings, from cabbage to cheese. They require a bit of time to prep, but you can make it worth your while by making a large batch – they reheat well.  The only challenge: trying to stop yourself from eating the whole batch.

Recipe Source: Mamushka

Steps

1
Done

For the dough

Mix the egg and water together in the bowl of your standing mixer. Gradually add the flour in and mix it well, scraping down the sides between additions. Knead the dough using a dough hook until it stops sticking. You want a firm, elastic dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

2
Done

For the filling

Place the peeled and chopped potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Season well with salt and bring to a boil. Cook until they can be easily pierced, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and mash well.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a frying pan. Set aside; chop once it's cool enough to handle.

Now cook the thinly sliced shallots in the bacon grease until golden brown. Mix the shallots with the potatoes and set aside.

3
Done

To assemble

Divide the dough into two pieces. Flour your work surface well and roll out the dough into a 12 inch circle, about 1/16" thick. Cut into 1 1/4" squares - you should end up with 20-25. Repeat with the second half, and a third time with any significant remaining scraps.

Place 1 tsp filling into the center of each square. Holding the dough, fold in half diagonally to create a triangle, and press the edges together to seal. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, making sure they don't touch. Repeat with all squares.

4
Done

To cook

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil and carefully drop all the varenyky in. Boil for a couple of minutes, or until they float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon. Check to be sure no dumplings are stuck to the bottom or side of the pans.

5
Done

To serve

Pour melted butter over the cook dumplings and sprinkle with bacon bits. Serve with a generous dollop of sour cream. Good luck not eating them all!

Johanna

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