More about Mr. Amaro.
Wojciech Modest Amaro is a renowned Polish and creative chef, who wishes to make a revolution in Polish cooking and introduce it into the 21st century. He spent several years abroad, learning new techniques, gaining extraordinary experience and working in top European restaurants, like for example elBULLI in Spain, which for many years has been listed among the world’s top 50 restaurants. Instead of making an international career abroad, Amaro came back to Poland, dedicated his time to the promotion and a completely new presentation of Polish food. In brief: the application of innovative culinary techniques and the use of traditional ingredients. I agree with Amaro, who underlines that to some extent Polish people are culinary immigrants….because of our latest history, we have been separated from culinary memories about tastes, names of ingredients mentioned in old cook books, which nowadays do not ring a bell to many people ….Maybe, at least, one day we will have a first Michelin star restaurant in our country?
Today, something delicious with a Polish traditional touch, far away from Amaro, but with taste of spring (again asparagus, but the season is so short, that I could not resist another asparagus recipe). Something perfect for a cold weather, like today. Do you know “kopytka” – a kind of Polish potato-flour dumplings? I will not be much mistaken, if I compare them to Italian “gnocchi”. Direct translation from Polish means “little hooves”. People hardly know about “kopytka”; their name is probably derived from their shape, which resembles little horse hooves. That is why they are called “kopytka”.
My comparison to gnocchi is not accidental. Some people consider these dumplings as a Polish equivalent to Italian gnocchi, although in Poland we always use all-purpose flour. This is a very rustic and cheap dish, a king of school cantinas and milk bars. The popular and traditional way to eat “kopytka” is with breadcrumbs fried with melted butter. However, they are excellent with meat (for example, Zrazy) or Chanterelles Sauce. In the neighborhood where I come from, they may be served with a local cheese, seasoned with chopped green onions. Usually they are about 2 to 2,5 cm long and 1 to 1,5 cm thick. You can make them, however, bigger and thicker, or smaller – according to your liking. You can add freshly chopped dill, parsley into the potato mixture. It is, however, not necessary.
My “kopytka” are served with sautéed green asparagus, and a green sauce, prepared on a base of dry white wine and shallots, with the addition of cream, butter and chopped parsley, dill and some blended asparagus. You can replace them with your favorite herbs (for example chives or basil). I sprinkled them with grated parmiggiano, regretting that I did not have at home ay Oscypek, which would go extremely well with this dish. Feel free to use your favorite hard cheese.
One important issue before you will go to your grocery shop and buy potatoes: not every type of potatoes will go well in this kind of preparation. You should choose potatoes with a high starch content, otherwise the potato puree, which is used as the kopytka “appareil”, will be too sticky and you will have to use much more flour. As indicated in traditional Polish recipes, the percentage of flour in potato puree should be about 20 to 30 %, but the actual amount much depends on the quality of the potatoes. Just in case, have some more extra flour than indicated in the recipe if your potatoes contain less starch.
Green Asparagus and Polish Style Gnocchi (Kopytka) with Green Sauce
400-500 g kopytka (see recipe below for 800 g of potatoes)
1 big shallot or 2 small ones, peeled and very finely chopped
1 heaped tablespoon very finely chopped dill
1 heaped tablespoon very finely chopped parsley
100 ml dry white wine
150 ml crème fraiche
500 g green asparagus
1 tablespoon lime juice
50 g freshly grated parmiggiano or your favorite hard cheese
1 tablespoon butter
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Start with the preparation of “kopytka”. You can prepare them in advance, even the day before and keep them cooked in the fridge (in such case, just heat them in boiling water for 1 minute prior to using them).
800 g potatoes, washed, in jackets
Around 200g all purpose flour (or as much as the dough will take – depending on the quality of your potatoes)
1 teaspoon butter
1 tablespoon very finely chopped dill (optional)
Cook potatoes in salted water until soft.
Then strain them, cool down a bit and peel them.
Reduce them to puree in a pot with a potato masher, while they are still warm.
Let the puree cool down.
Break the egg, add it to the puree together with ½ teaspoon of salt, butter, dill (optional) and 150 g of flour to start with.
Mix all ingredients until the mixture is homogenous.
If the dough is too sticky, add more flour, a little at a time.
On a working table, pour a bit of flour and remove the dough from the bowl and work it with your hands until it becomes smooth and cohesive, so it is possible to cut it with a knife.
If necessary, add a bit of flour.
The dough is ready when it does not stick to your hands anymore. Be careful: do not overdo it, otherwise its structure will be affected and it will become too soft and moist.
Divide the dough into three equal parts.
Form a cylinder or around 1 cm wide, flatten it a bit and cut diagonally into 1.5 cm long pieces. You may also make bigger kopytka – according to your liking.
Repeat the procedure with the remaining two parts of the dough.
In a large saucepan, bring to a boil 3 liters of water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt.
Cook the kopytka in boiling water in batches. Once they rise to the surface of the water, boil them for more another 3 minutes (before straining them, taste one to check the cooking stage). Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked dumplings to a colander and drain.
Should you want to serve them later, rinse them under cold running water, place them in a container and add a bit of melted butter to them, so they will not stick to each other.
Kopytka may be served the next day; you will have to heat them up for one minute in boiling water. You can also heat them up on a frying pan.
Preparation of the sauce and green asparagus:
In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil shallots with white wine. Reduce about half way and add the cream and cook over a low flame, mixing from time to time, until the sauce is slightly reduced – it will take about 10 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the green asparagus. Cut off the wooden, dry parts of them and throw them away. If necessary, peel delicately the thicker part of their stems (I do this when green asparagus is really thick, because they do not cook well, although theoretically green asparagus should not be peeled). Cut the asparagus across into halves. Slice delicately the parts with tips along (they should be around 9 cm long). Cut the remaining parts across into very thin slices.
Heat up a frying pan and pour some olive oil. Once it is hot, add asparagus (both slices and strips) and sauté them for around 5 minutes over a high flame, until the asparagus are sautéed al dente but keep their green color. Salt and pepper generously.
Finish the sauce: add chopped dill, parsley, butter, half of the asparagus’ slices and the lime juice into the saucepan and blend the sauce, using a blender. Salt and pepper according to your taste.
Place the hot “kopytka” (previously heated up in boiling water or any other way you like) on your serving plates. Pour the sauce, add asparagus and finish by sprinkling the top with freshly grated hard cheese.
Bon appétit !
At the end of this day: Great thanks to Ewa from a blog called Delishh. Ewa graciously awarded me The Sunshine Award . I am really grateful! Please hop over and check out her blog for some yummy recipes and tasty ideas.