These are mandatory at Christmas Eve dinner, to be immersed in barszcz czerwony (unless you belong to the grzybowa z łazankami [recipe to appear] faction).
A simple concept, but difficult to deliver gracefully – they ought to be smaller in diameter than 1.5 cm (less than 0.5 inch). This size constraint, with a normal finger, like mine, is almost impossible to achieve – although I know people who can! Whatever your limitations, you must not give up. The trick is to make each small enough to fit on a table spoon with some soup. But in the end, it is the taste that counts!
Once made, uszka can be boiled immediately or frozen. To freeze, prepare a flat tray with some flour on it, place ready uszka (step 9) on it, place the tray in the freezer, give it some time (2 hours?) until they are really stiff, then drop them into a clean and dry freezer bag and store in deep freeze until you need them.
The quantities of flour below will make much too much pasta than you really need for this amount of mushrooms. This balance is based on the minimum number of eggs, which is one egg, but maybe you have the opportunity to use half an egg? If you do, by all means, cut down on the flour. For those economy oriented cooks I would recommend having some other filling handy (some pierogi, for example), having more mushrooms (more uszka, but, boy, it’s a challenge to put together so many at a time…), or making simple basic pasta out of the remaining dough. Pasta can be dried and stored (in paper bag, for example) to be used when needed.
• 8oz (250g) dried boletus (porcini) mushrooms (other mushrooms can be used but these give the best and most authentic flavour)
• 1 onion, chopped finely
• 1 egg
• 2 cups (300g) plain flour (all purpose flour)
Make filling first:
1. Soak the mushrooms in a small quantity of hot water until they become soft
2. Drain the liquid into the soup (barszcz!)
3. Fry the mushrooms with the onion until soft (butter gives the most authentic flavour)
4. Blend or chop very finely. You want small and manageable pieces, but you do not want a smooth paste. A teaspoon will have to carry a chunk of this onto a pasta square..
5. Season liberally (pepper! salt) to taste.
6. Let sit till cool. It’s OK to cover tightly and store in the fridge till tomorrow..
1. Place the flour into a bowl (I use an electric, powerful mixer and the dough hook) and break the egg into the flour.
2. Mix together with sufficient cold water to obtain a pliant dough
3. Roll a manageable chunk (1/3?) of dough out thinly on a floured board.
4. Cut into strips about 1,5-inch (4cm) wide, and then perpendicular to cut into squares, approximately 1.5 x 1.5 inches (4×4 cm) in size. These will determine the size of your uszka (you may start larger, to test your folding skills).
Fold and deliver:
5. Put a large pot of water on the stove and get it to boil with some salt. If you plan to freeze the uszka, skip this step.
6. Place a small quantity of mushroom mix slightly off-centre on each dough piece.
7. Fold squares diagonally in half to make a triangle.
8. Pinch the edges together to seal.
9. Fold over the two base points of the triangle so that they overlap and pinch them together. Collect on a floured tray.
10. Freeze or move to next step.
11. Cook batches in boiling, salted water for 5 minutes, or until they re-surface + (1-2) minutes
12. Take them out with a slotted spoon, place in soup bowls or on a flat plate, if not to be used immediately. When boiled and resting they should not be crowded, to avoid sticking together..
When you are ready with the barszcz, the uszka are placed in soup bowls and immersed in a VERY HOT soup, or, when coming out of the freezer, they must be boiled (see step 11, it may take longer to have them re-surface..)
Note: Uszka means “little ears” in Polish and that is the shape you are aiming for. Ideally, the dough should be rolled out so thinly that it is practically transparent, and smaller pieces should be used so as to make the smallest possible packets.