Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tradition: Kasha Varnishkes

It's Rosh Hashanah tomorrow night at sundown, the Jewish new year of 5772.

Roast chicken and a brisket are always on the menu, along with a noodle kugel and if you're lucky, my Grandmother's chopped liver.

My grandmother has been gone for a while now, so I never get to eat this comforting dish called Kasha Varnishkes, which is a traditional dish served on this holiday.

Vegetarians love this dish because kasha (buckwheat groats) are a healthy addition to salads and side dishes, however, most people have never heard of kasha, but it's a staple in Eastern European Jewish cooking.

This is addictive and it brought back great memories.

If you can, try and use chicken fat, also known as schmaltz. It makes all the difference. I buy frozen chicken fat in the frozen section of my supermarket.

A little chicken fat never hurt anyone.

Kasha Varnishkes: (adapted from Joy of Cooking)

3 tablespoons chicken fat or vegetable oil
2 large onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups sliced mushrooms (optional but makes it so good!)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
ground black pepper
1/2 lb. bowtie pasta
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup whole kasha (whole roasted buckwheat groats)
2 cups hot chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (for garnish)

Heat the schmaltz or vegetable oil in a large heavy skillet over a medium-high flame. Add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes until browning and remove to a large bowl.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until tender but firm. Drain and toss with the browned onions and mushrooms.

Beat the egg in a small bowl. Add the kasha and stir until all the grains are well coated. Wipe out the skillet and set it over a high flame. Add the egg-coated kasha to the skillet and cook, stirring, until the grains are toasted and separate, 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the hot chicken stock. Stir, cover, and simmer until the stock is absorbed and the kasha is tender but not mushy, 7-8 minutes.

Stir the onion-mushroom-noodle mixture into the kasha. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

The dish can be made 1-2 days in advance and reheated, uncovered, in a 350°F oven. If it seems dry, add 1/4 cup chicken stock and a little more chicken fat!


Enjoy and have a happy & healthy Jewish New Year!


Anonymous said...


Karen said...

I love kasha. Happy & healthy new year Stacey. Best to you and your family.

StaceyEsq said...

Happy and Healthy 5772 to you and your family! I cannot wait to try this recipe!! I will bring it to my my mother's-in-law home tomorrow evening as my contribution to the family dinner! Thank you!

Oui Chef said...

I've only cooked with buckwheat groats once and I found the texture really unappealing...I think I may have overcooked them. Are they supposed to be squishy or should they have a bite to them? perhaps I'll try my luck with them again in this lovely dish.

Stacey Snacks said...

They should be like lentils, or bulgur, not mushy. You toast them first so they separate, then the 8 minutes simmered in stock really cooks them just right! I hope you try them again, they are so good and nutty! I love them!

The Japanese Redneck said...

So many things that I haven't tried.

Thanks for showing me new things.

Joanne said...

I love how you go from talking about how vegetarians love this to talking about chicken fat :P Your food always makes me smile!

ARLENE said...

Being Italian has never stopped me from loving a big bowl of kasha varnishkes. Happy New Year, Stacy.

dm said...

Sorry but I hate kasha. Sitting down to Sunday night suppers which consisted of a roast and kasha n' bows was torture especially since I had to eat everything before I could leave the table. Cold kasha in gravy is even more disgusting than hot. This is one recipe I'll not be doing. I'm making a mushroom strudel for me and a chicken with mango sauce for my meat eating son.

Shana Tova!!

tasteofbeirut said...

My daughter (and neighbor) loved the buckwheat groats I made last time and i am sure they would love this as well. Happy new Year!