Pumpkin-Spiced Potato Knish With Homemade Cranberry Sauce
A pumpkin-spiced dough and a homemade cranberry mustard sauce tweak the knish into an off-beat Thanksgiving appetizer. Amy Kritzer/JW
active: 30 min
total: 3 hrs
This is the next installment in our series The Remix, in which we seek to gently rework the more challenging dishes in the Jewish culinary canon. With a little bit of love, we’re convinced we can make any Jewish dish delicious, even ones that seem a bit bizarre to the modern palate.
The late Joan Rivers once proclaimed on Twitter: “Who doesn’t love a knish?” The context was regarding what Kanye and Kim should name their baby, but as it turns out, not everyone does love a knish. There are two types of people in this world. Team Knish, and those other guys. And generally I don’t trust those other guys, but if they’ve only had a bad knish, I get it. Knishes can get stale, dry and more in need of mustard than a (kosher) ballpark hotdog. Knishes are best fresh out of the oven, piping hot. With just a smidge of mustard.
But don’t take my word for it. As luck would have it, I could go straight to the ultimate knish source, Laura Silver, author of “Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food” (Brandeis), published earlier this year. She was in Austin last week on her book tour, and I had the honor of introducing her.
When Silver’s favorite knish shop in Brooklyn, Mrs. Stahl’s, went out of business, she began to research the doughy, starchy pasties. Her quest that took her around the world, connected her to her family and inspired her first book.
The knish, she found, originated in Ukraine; it was often made with pork fat. Eastern European Jews adapted the knish, made it kosher and filled it with the now-traditional potatoes or meat. When they came to America in the late 1800s, the knish came along, and was soon sold in street carts and Jewish delis.
As I was getting my copy of “Knish” signed, I asked Silver the secret to a good knish. She said schmaltz wasn’t the necessary ingredient. But what was?
“Love first. Then as much oil as possible.” A woman after my own heart.
This Thanksgiving version of the knish has a pumpkin-spiced dough that is filled with mashed potatoes and dipped in a cranberry mustard sauce. It’s not traditional, but that may be just what’s needed to start a conversation with those unfortunate knish-haters.
Amy Kritzer is a food writer and recipe developer in Austin, Texas. She blogs at What Jew Wanna Eat.