About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The Shape of Things
Kopytka with Polish carrots

When it comes to mixing potato with flour to make small dumplings, many consider the Italian gnocchi to reign supreme. But there is another country that idolises this basic mixture as much as Italians do, which came to be due to love and homesickness.

In 1518, an Italian princess, Bona Sforza, married King Zygmunt of Poland. Missing her native Italy, Bona brought architects and artists from there to Poland, as well as seeds and expert cooks, so that she could still have a connection with her now distant homeland. Such was the impact of her actions that some Italian words slipped into the Polish language, such as kalafiory (cauliflower), pomidory (tomato) and salata (lettuce).

Of course, everyone recognises the little barrel shaped gnocchi with the fork ridges, that are specifically there to help pick up and retain whatever sauce is being used to coat them, but this shape is far from the last word in sauce retaining capabilities. Because gnocchi were such a hit with the Poles, they soon adopted them and put their own twists upon them.

The Polish generic name for gnocchi is kluski, which covers a multitude of small dumplings, the ones in the photo are known as kopytka, which despite looking quite large, are no more than 2.5cm (1") across; other versions are known as slaskie and lane, mostly distinguished by their different shapes and slightly different recipes, for instance kopytka contain potato flour as well. Another popular version are pyzy, which contains grated cooked and raw potato and are very often stuffed with minced pork and served with fried lardons of bacon and onion.

The kopytka in the photo are being served with Polish style carrots that have been grated and cooked with a little butter and water, then thickened with some potato flour, but all sorts of sauces and toppings have been developed over the years to go with them, a sort of goulash is also popular, right down to just a simple bowl of melted butter. In this way, the Poles have managed to retain the character of the dumplings, if not the shape, and in the process, make them their own.
  posted at 8:14 am

At 4:46 pm, Blogger Anh said...

Beautiful story. I never know that the Polish has a version of gnocchi.

At 6:08 pm, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Don't know what it is but I'm really into carrots these days.
Cute little things those kluski.
I was just looking at my "haluski" grater yesterday thinking I need to take that up but still don't have a recipe.

At 6:24 pm, Blogger paul kennedy said...

I love that kind of food most of all on Earth and I'm not even Polish, although Mum suspects there is an Eastern European Jewish strain in there somewhere along with the Irish and English.

At 9:51 pm, Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

In my both-sides-Polish family, we used to call dumplings like this "depth charges" -- a reflection, perhaps, on how filling they are, or how they sink to the bottom of a bowl of broth. Either way, they are delicious!

At 7:47 am, Blogger snaplings said...

thanks for posting about my favourite topic- dumplings!!! have you done any other dumpling posts? Whats the texture of these like? Will you be making those other polish dumplings so we can all have a drool fest? hehe

At 2:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love potato dumplings! Is there a hole in the middle of them? They look like little dough nuts.

At 3:45 am, Blogger Katie Zeller said...

Both the carrots and the kluski look wonderful!
I haven't tried my hand at gnocchi or dumplings or noodles in ages... You may have inspired me.
Bad thing about winter - all those wonderful hearty foods that I love. (We're starting winter..sigh)

At 8:20 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi anh, it is a very lovely story, wish I knew more, but I can't read Polish, well, only the food words!

Hi tanna, I love carrots too. Do you like herrings? D has a recipe for herring with a carrot marinade that is wonderful...if you like herrings. When I get my flourless white chocolate cake up and posted, I might call you out over that haluski recipe!

Hi kitchen hand, shame it's going into summer, I could post quite a few more, I probably should have put the recipe up too, next time. Looks like we share some heritage, though we have some Scottish blood as well.

Hi lydia, I can just imagine Poles having that sort of fun with the names!

Hi snaplings, no, this is my first dumpling post, but I will do another, probably pyzy. These kopytka have the texture of gnocchi, just not the shape.

Hi andy, no, there is no hole, just a depression to catch the sauce, though they do look like little doughnuts.

Hi katiez, yep, winter is the time to try these things. If you have no problem with gnocchi making these are a snap, you could even use the same recipe, just roll the dough into a ball, then press with a well floured finger in the middle.

At 5:51 pm, Blogger Kristin said...


is pyrogi polish too? They are my favourite sort of dumpling. Backstory: australian (born in canada) working as a nanny in the caribbean, with a bunch of canadian girls. on Canada Day they made pyrogi. turns out, the prairies of canada are filled with migrants from the ukraine and poland. and i never found out which country claimed the dumplings first.

At 7:15 am, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Does that mean you have a haluski recipe? I think we could have a good time with that one!

At 1:01 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi kazari_lu, as far as I know, pierogi are pure Polish, though the dumpling shape and some of the fillings are common to many Eastern European countries. I knew that there were a lot of Poles in Canada, but not Ukrainians, though it would seem obvious. I think history is pointing to Poland as the creator of this kind of dumpling, but it seems to have a heavy Italian influence.

Hi tanna, believe me, I am so looking for one now!!!

At 1:44 pm, Anonymous marie said...

do you have a recipe for those cute dumplings? I would love to make them this weekend..thanks mb

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