Uszka

Uszka, literally ‘little ears’, are one of the three types of Polish filled dumpling alongside pierogi and nalesniki. The name obviously comes from their shape, which resembles small ears, they are usually served in broth and contain savoury fillings. This recipe, in particular, has a mushroom filling, but you could just boil them in salted water and then toss them in some butter and herbs. The recipe below also makes 20, which you can serve as a main course or, probably better, as a warming and soothing starter. Before the purists of Polish cuisine start telling me I did this and that wrong, please let me just say this is my adaptation of the recipe and by no means it is the way you are supposed to make them. Also, a small word of advice: the recipe for the filling makes more than you’ll need, but I find working with tiny quantities always leaves me hoping I have not miscalculated it, so I prefer to have some extra.

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Ingredients (for the dough)

  • 75g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 egg yolk
  • approximately 2 1/2 tbsp cold water

Ingredients (for the filling)

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  • 150g closed cup mushrooms
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • salt & pepper

Ingredients (for the broth)

  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground garlic
  • pepper to taste
  • 4 spring onions, sliced diagonally

Method

  1. The dough is very easy to make. Put the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the chopped parsley, egg yolk and mix, then slowly start adding just enough water to combine the mixture together. Lightly knead the dough on a work surface until smooth, then set aside and cover with clingfilm or the upturned bowl.
  2. To make the filling, I suggest using a food processor. The onion and mushrooms need to be very finely chopped, so I find using technology is a great help. Of course, you can do this by hand. If you are using a food processor, tip the onion and mushrooms into the machine and finely chop. Melt the butter in a frying pan, then add the mushroom and onions and cook them gently over a low heat for about 10 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool completely.
  3. Once the mixture is cold, lightly whisk the egg white and add 1 tbsp to the mushroom mixture, then follow with the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Combine to make it a slightly wet mixture.
  4. Dust your working surface with flour, then roll out the ball of dough very thinly. Use a 5cm round cookie cutter to cut as many circles as you can, then re-roll the trimmings and repeat. I did it for a total of 3 times.
  5. Lightly coat the rim of the each round with some egg white, then dollop approximately 1/2 tsp filling inside and fold it on itself, pressing gently to seal. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  6. To make the broth, bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan, then add all of the ingredients but the spring onions. Cook the dumplings in batches of 6-7 for about 4-5 minutes, then remove to a plate where you have ladled some of the stock. Add the spring onions to the last batch of dumplings and flash cook them, then divide between plates and enjoy while warm.

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