Saturday, May 8, 2010

Green Asparagus and Polish Style Gnocchi (Kopytka) with Green Sauce

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?
More about Mr. Amaro.

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

Serves 4

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).

“kopytka” ingredients:
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 egg
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.


Szalony Kucharz said...

I don't know about that Amaro fella. Doesn't seem like a genuine person to me. But what I know is that you make hell of a better job than him promoting Polish cuisine and elevating it to levels unattained before. And I mean that sincerely, form the bottom of my heart, broken today by my two failed attempts at pastries for my nephew's Holy Communion.

Muscat said...

Brawo za "polish style gnocchi"!!! Kopytka pod tą nazwą prezentują się ogromnie europejsko i jednocześnie zaznaczają swą odrębność narodową. Tak trzymać! :)

Paula said...

prześlicznie podane! z przyjemnością chciałabym dokładkę :)

Konsti said...

Powiem krotko: piekne i apetyczne! I do tego te zdjecia niezwyklej urody...
Pozdrawiam serdecznie.

Ewelina Majdak said...

Magdo nie wiem od czego zacząć.
To jest fantastyczne połączenie wszystkich smaków które lubię!
I w dodatku kopytka - smak domu. Najlepsze odsmażane na maśle i posypane zrumienioną tartą bułką :)
Aleś mi smaku narobiła!

Mary Bergfeld said...

This is a lovely presentation of a dish I'm sure is as delicious as it is beautiful. This is the first of what I hope will be many visits to your lovely blog. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Reeni said...

This is a wonderful dish for Spring! Gnocchi with asparagus is a delicious combo. Especially served with the rich and creamy sauce.

Magdalena said...

Muscat, tak sie zastanawiam, czy to porownanie jest ok. I w jednym i drugim sa ziemniaki, pierwsze sa znane na calym swiecie (tzn wloskie), a nasze, polskie nie i szkoda; a dobrze przyrzadzone w niczym nie odbiegaja od gnocchi.

Polko tak, kopytka to smak domu oraz szkoly w moim przypadku. Slabosc mam do tych serwowanych w najprostszy sposob – z bulka tarta smazona w masle (uwielbiam ja, a Ty?)....

Paula, podaje Ci wirtualna dokladke ...

Konsti, dzienks. Dobre sa te nasze kopytka...

Magdalena said...

Hello Szalony; what did you prepare (or at least what did you try to prepare for your nephew’s communion?)…
thanks for complimenting me but you know, I am only an amateur, in addition at the very beginning of my blog “career”, if I may say so….it even impossible, to compare me and Mr. Amaro, who is a talented professional. I try to promote traditional Polish food , present it a bit differently, but I do have enough knowledge to do "refolution" :). That’s it ! Take care, fella !

Mary, I can see that you visit my blog for the first time. I had a quick look at yours and I am impressed by your preserves and other traditional preparations. Take care !

Cinnamon-Girl: yes, it is a spring dish and kopytka go ideally with this creamy green sauce.

Katie@Cozydelicious said...

I have a dill plant that has grown so hude it is taking over all of the other herbs! This recipe is perfect - anything to use some of that dill! I love this sauce - yum! I can't wait to make this.

AJ said...

Gnocchi looks delicious Magdalena!! And the asparagus is lovely!!

tasteofbeirut said...


I feel I have found a treasure here! Your posts are so informative, your taste exquisite and the final result mouthwatering! Thanks you for introducing me to these wonderful Polish specialties!

Monika said...

Rzeczywiście smak domu (a nawet ściślej - domu Babci w moim przypadku :-)), obowiązkowo ze skwarkami ze słoninki albo z przysmażoną na złoto-brązowo cebulką :-)
Piękne te zdjęcia na białym tle, bardzo lubię takie!
Pozdrawiam serdecznie :-)

Szalony Kucharz said...

Well, I tried to build a beautiful Prinzregententorte. Tastewise, it came out OK (if you don't mind the occasional crunch of sugar in buttercream; I broke my blender the other day, so I couldn't pulverise the sugar properly, as I had no shop-bought icing sugar at home, and simply forgot that I should have made syrup and beat it into the butter to get a smooth, crunch-free consistency). The layering is a different story though. It's still years of hit and misses ahead of me (and zillions of teracalories to burn off after) before I master the basics of cake decoration arts.

The other "failure" was a chocolate ganache and raspberry tarte. Again, it tasted great but looked short of repelling. "Rustic" is a more polite word to describe it. You know, the case when you need to comfort yourself with saying that the real beauty comes from the inside.

But I'm spouting off again... Sorry.

Chef Dennis Littley said...

what a great post!! very nicely written, and easy to understand....I would have no problem following your recipe...I have always been hesitant to make gnocchi....too much make it sound easy!!
thanks for sharing!

SallyBR said...

I just found your blog through Yeastpotting comments, and wow! I will be visiting often

I know next to nothing about Polish cuisine, so it's time to learn!

These "kopytka" are amazing!

Magdalena said...

Moniko, mnie kopytka sie niezbyt dobrze kojarza, gdyz kojarza mi sie ze szkolna stolowka; ale lubilam je - nawet ze skwarkami i cebulka tez. Zwlaszcza, gdy czlowiek mial kilkanascie lat i spalal wszystkie kalorie bez problemu, hihihi.

Magdalena said...

Katie; I would like to have a huge dill plant in my garden, because I like it a lot (although not so many people do). Unfortunately, I do not have my garden, and even a balcony, so I have to be happy with what I can buy on food markets. In Poland, we use dill weed (a bit wooden part of the plant ) to pickle cucumbers; if you like dill, you should not throw away dill weed !

Hi, Apu – asparagus is great; what a pity that the season is so short;

Tasteof Beirut – I hope that my posts are not boring because of being informative. Big, big thanks for appreciating my efforts and we stay in touch.

Szalony Kucharz: Prinzregententorte – what’s that, man? I googled but I found the name only in German – it does not ring a bell ! Probably you are not in a very good mood lately, and that’s why you think your pastries were not good. Is that true ? Take care !
P.S. I have a recipe of my husband for ganache, I can share it (when he will be back – he is in Poland now).

Helo Dennis! Nice to see you’re here and thanks, thanks a lot for your warm words! It is not so much work to do those Polish-style gnocchi – the only problem is to find right potatoes...

Sally, thanks for finding my blog and that you like my Polish-style recipes ! It’s great that you like them.

LidKa said...

Twój blog jest znakomity - czapka z głowy:) Świetny język, przepiękne zdjęcia, nie mówiąc już o przepisach.

Karolina said...

Magda, this is amazing. :) I love "kopytka" and everything that goes with them on your plate. Absolutely fab! I wish I could be not so lazy. ;)

Taking about right potaoes, correct me if I am wrong - but the waxy ones are better for "kopytka".

Magdalena said...

Karolina, thanks!
I do not know about this division for waxy and floury. In France, you ask for potatoes for "puree", soup, French frites, gratin and so on. Those French potatoes are completely different than in Poland; after third or fourth failure I checked Polish cookbooks and I made research on the web - one should buy potatoes reach in starch (here I ask now for potatoes which have a lot of starch and since then it works....)
In Polish:

Magdalena said...

Czesc Lidko, wieeeelkie dzieki ! Fajnie, ze wpadlas (w szczegolnosci uwaga o jezyku jest dla mnie wazna). Trzymaj sie...!

Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron said...

Love your photography! The dish looks wonderful and yummy. I'm glad I found you!

krissy @ said...

it's so refreshing to see beautiful photos of the step-by-step process. what a great dish you prepared.. well done!

Tasty Eats At Home said...

Looks so elegant and delicious. Of course, you can always woo me with asparagus.

Magdalena said...

Tanatha, Krissy, Tasty Eats at Home: thanks for visiting the blog. I invite you tomorrow for another (and last one this month) aparagus dish – this time white asparagus !

Unknown said...

No wlasnie... KOPYTKA!!!
Dlaczego od ostatniego razu, kiedy jadlam kopytka, minelo tyle czasu?!?

Swietny przepis :)

Magdalena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Magdalena said...

A moze dlatego, Anoushko, ze to bol w zadku je zrobic, nie ?
Milo Cie tu widziec :)

An z Chatki said...

jak dla mnie rewelacja :)
Pozdr An

Magdalena said...

Dziekuje An i tez pozdrawiam !

Aps Kitchen said...

Mag.... I loved ur blog................ nd I long for asparagus.... not in market :(............. Ur space is awesome :)

Magdalena said...

Aps, thanks :)

wanda art. said...

Ciesze sie ze widze jak pokazujesz jak robi sie polskie kopytka , tak sa pyszne pod kazda postacia nawet ze zwyklymi skwarkami i przypominaja mi okres mojego dziecinstwa .dawno nie jadlam , bo tutaj tego nie znaja , a dzieci tego nie chca , lubia pierozki, kluski na parze -pampuchy , golabki, to gotuje im czasami , ale dzieki ci zjadlabym teraz z wielka checia twoje kopytka , moze kiedys ????,
pozdrawiam cie serdecznie ,a takze Paryz , bylam z dziecmi ,
zapraszam tez do mnie , tylko ja mam inne blog .

Anonymous said...

Fantastyczny blog :)

Tylko czemu "Gnocchi po polsku"?
Duzo lepiej weddlug mnie byloby wlasnie "Kopytka"!!:)

Przeciez to jest polska potrawa,podobna ,ale jednak inna-
to brzmi troche jakbysmy zaczerpneli gnocchi,i jedynie odrobine je zmodyfikowali...

I tak pomysl na popularyzowanie polskiej kuchni ,troche mija sie z celem...
Chwalmy nasze swojskie kopytka bo nie tylko w niczym nie ustepuja wloskim ,ale oprocz tego sa nasze i niepowtarzalne!:)

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