They started out in three separate piles, our weekday trinity: brisket, skirt steak, or sometimes a thick meat patty (it only became a hamburger when surrounded by a roll): one hill of fluffy mashed potatoes and another of shimmering, bronzed onions. Under my grandmother’s tutelage, I learned the correct way to combine them in a sublime mishmash.
First, of course, stir the onions into the potatoes, adding little spoons of gravy or meat juices to make the mixing easier. Impale the meat on your fork and bury it deep in the potato pile. Withdraw and lick it like a lollipop, flavored if necessary with copious quantities of additional gravy and judicious sprinkles of pepper—there was probably too much salt to begin with.
Years later I found out that we were not the only family that engaged in mishmashing this classic trio. In these kreplach, a paean to the combination, I fashion the same ingredients into a simple but perfect pasta package. Including mashed potatoes in a filling for pasta may seem an overload of starch. But as in my grandmother’s original mishmash, smooth, rich potatoes lend a creamy sumptuousness to the golden onions and savory shards of beef, especially when encased in thin, silky kreplach like these made from wonton wrappers.
Float the kreplach in homemade beef or chicken broth. They also make an outstanding appetizer or side dish, sauced with beef gravy or topped with sautéed mushrooms. Or pat the cooked kreplach dry, then panfry them lightly in oil with sizzled onions.
In a large skillet, sauté the onions in the oil over medium-high heat, lifting and tossing them frequently, until soft and golden, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and continue sautéing until the mixture is tinged a rich caramel color in spots. (Good fried onions should be an amalgam of several degrees of doneness: from nearly clear to butter yellow to speckles of deep bronze.) Salt and pepper to taste and scrape into a large bowl. Add the mashed potatoes and the meat and combine well. Season generously to taste and stir in the egg yolk. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
Full and trim the kreplach, using about 1 heaping teaspoon of filling per krepl, folding it into a tight triangle, and sealing with the egg wash.
Poach the kreplach. In a large, wide pot, bring at least
Serve the poached kreplach in broth, sauced with leftover brisket or pot roast gravy, or topped with fried onions or sautéed mushrooms.
© 2008 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.