Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Laudable Knish!!!!

"The Laudable Knish...". I have eaten every kind of Knish under the sky!! Well that's not exactly true. I have eaten my fair share of Knishes over the years and I have a favorite and I am here to share it with you. My favorite Knish is a Short-Rib version combined with potato and onions topped with a rich beef gravy.  

What puts my Knish over the top and makes it stand apart from other Knishes is the addition of Schmaltz and Gribenes. If you don't know what Schmaltz and Gribenes is click on the link. You cannot make great Jewish food without it. For you to understand what I mean I offer this analogy "Schmaltz and Gribenes is to the Jew as Lard and bacon bits is too the Goy"  "Therefore this is the Chosen Knish"

Before we move on to a recipe we need to define what a Knish is. It's the perfect Jewish snack food. 

A Knish is an Eastern European nosh created by the Jewish people. The Knish is covered by dough and is normally filled with some type of filling.  From savory to sweet it's all good. 

However if we want to explore the the Origins of the first Knish we look no further than NYC.  Yonah Shimmel's Knish Bakery  is a NYC landmark that sells the original Knish that started in 1890 on a pushcart. Yonah Schimmel was a Romanian immigrant who started it all using a pushcart to start his now acclaimed Knish Bakery. I was fortunate to have eaten here as a young boy because my grandmother only lived a short distance away.  To read more about this wonderful Knish landmark click the link above. 

Most Knishes are filled with some sought of potato onions and combo of ingredients. They can be baked, deep fried, or grilled. 

From broccoli, cheese too sauerkraut and of course the potato a Knish is only limited to ones imagination. 

can be round, square, rectangular or any shape one can think of. Some are completely sealed or some have an opening at the top. 

Lets talk about the stuffing. I love Short-Ribs.!!!  Short-Ribs have incredible flavor and benefit from a long slow cook. My Short-Rib recipe is simple to make. Short-Ribs can be purchased boneless or on the bone. You can choose what ever you want but consider this, bones provide better flavor for the broth. I purchased my Short-Ribs at Costco. Basically all you want to do is braise the ribs in a mirepoix until the meat becomes fork tender. Of course you want to reserve the braising liquid for later use (the gravy of course). 

After I explain how to braise Short-Ribs I will discuss how to put it all together. This is very simple to pull off. Next of course is the dough. You can use almost any good dough for a Knish. Store bought puff pastry works great too.  

Simple Braising Short-Rib recipe follows. I usually do this in advance.  If you do it more than 4 or 5 days out consider freezing.  

2-4 lbs of Short-Ribs (bones or not its up to you). 
Salt and pepper
Canola oil for frying.  I like canola because of high smoke point. 
Mirepoix as follows:
1 large onion, 3 large carrots, 6 cloves of garlic, 2 celery stalks (Medium chop)
1 cup of Red wine
2 tbl tomato paste
1 Bouquet Garni Place in a cheese cloth bag 1 bunch of fresh thyme and parsley , 2 bay leaves and 12 pepper corns. 
Water, beef or chicken stock to to cover. 

Season ribs with salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven coat bottom with canola oil and get super hot. Brown short ribs until nicely caramelized than set aside. If too much fat renders spill it out.  

Coat pan with canola oil if needed. Toss mirepoix in pan, season with salt and pepper and cook until very caramelized while scraping fond (brown bits on bottom of pan).  After everything is caramelized add tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes. Toss in red wine and scrape the fond off the bottom of the dutch oven. Reduce by half.  After everything has reduced by half. Add add short ribs, broth or water just above ribs. Throw in the Bouquet Garni. Cook covered for a total of 3 plus hours on a very low flame on simmer. Turn the ribs halfway through cooking process. After meat becomes fork tender and almost falling apart remove pot from heat source.  Strain broth through some type of strainer lined with cheese cloth and reserve. You can DE- fat the broth if you want too. 

This is what the Short-Ribs look like after they have been shredded and DE-boned. You can do this whole step a week or several weeks out. Just freeze than defrost when you are ready to put together your Knish. The Short-Ribs you see in the picture were made 2 weeks ago and are being heated through with some of its own broth. 

The Shredded Short-Ribs in the picture weighs exactly 2 lbs. I am going to add to this an equal amount of Mashed Potatoes and 2 large caramelized onions.  

Two very large onions caramelizing with garlic. 

Caramelized onions and Shredded Short-Ribs combined. 

Mashed potatoes. I make my mashed potatoes with Salt, pepper, cream and butter. 

Everything starting to pull together.  I added the onions, scallions, parsley and potatoes. 
 I added the Creme de creme (best of the best) and none other than Schmaltz and Gribenes  that sets this Knish apart from others. 

How much Schmalz and Gribenes to add is a personal choice.  Add some and taste.  Does the Knish mixture taste good. Oy, if not just adjust and move on. It is now complete. 

I used the reserved Short-rib broth and added to this extra beef bones and made a very beefy rich broth. I sauteed mushrooms and onions and a made roux. To this I added the broth, cream, parsley and this became my topping. 

Looks Beautiful topped with sour cream doesn't it. 

Below we will explore the different dough options. 


Knish Dough options

 Dough #1
Easiest of them all is store bought Puff Pastry dough.  All you do is defrost and cut into desired sizes and shapes.   Mix egg with a little water brush your Knish and bake until golden.  DONE!!!!

Dough #2
Filo dough is another option although harder to work with in my opinion.  You have the option of creating many layers with Filo dough and if you choose this approach just make sure you butter each layer. 

Some basic rules about Knish dough. There are no rules.  Add what every you to it for flavor.  You can add food coloring to it to change it's color.  Turmeric is a way of doing this.  Add what ever you want. Herbs and seasoning are a great way to bring out the color of the dough. I love the addition of pepper and Turmeric.  

Special note: To tenderize your dough add 1 tsp of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of flour called for in a recipe.

About the addition of FAT:  you gotta have fat in your Knish dough. Try replacing some of the fat with Schmaltz. 

One last thing and this is important. Mix all the dry ingredients first and add to the wet ingredients. After you make your Knish dough you can store in refrigerator for several days.  I would suggest after you make your dough place in refrigerator for about an hour to hydrate. Take DOUGH out about an hour before use. This will so the gluten relax. For a detailed description on how to make dough I suggest  GOOGLE!!!!

# 3 My Favorite Knish dough

  • 8 ounces of softened cream cheese (chive and herb cream cheese is awesome)
  • 8 ounces softened unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 1/2 cups of AP flour
  • 1 tsp of salt


  • 1/3 cup of canola oil
  • 5 large eggs beaten ( add to the color(
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup filtered water
  • 1 pound or more of AP flour

#5 ( Good frying dough)

  • 3 cups of AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup of oil Canola, Veg , Sunflower oil
  • 1 cup of filtered water.  
  • 11-16 ounces of AP flour 
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • large egg beaten 
  • 1/2 cup of choose I like Schmaltz
  • 1-2 tsp vinegar
  • 1/2 of filtered water