Thanksgiving is a North American tradition that falls just at the end of the great harvest before the soil freezes and goes dormant for the winter. It is a meal that tells tales of the Native Americans who owned the soil and the Puritan immigrants who were looking for new soil from which to harvest meals and on which to live more freely. While each family has their own must haves on the table and Thanksgiving traditions (Football or Charlie Brown on TV), one thing that holds true for just about every family is that there will be leftovers.
If you look for some history on the knish, most routes point to Brooklyn, NY, but their heritage goes all the back to “the old country” in Poland. Traditionally a knish is filled with potatoes mashed with onions and schmaltz (rendered chicken fat). There are also kasha knishes (buckwheat), and the sweet cheese knish. My knish takes your Thanksgiving leftovers and puts them in a wonderful little package that can be enjoyed right away or frozen to nosh (snack) on later when you’re craving a little taste of Thanksgiving.
Note: This recipe uses a dairy free stuffing in order to keep the recipe Kosher. The gravy is also dairy free and is thickened with the schmaltz from the turkey gravy: When you separate the fat from the gravy, chill it and use it to make your flour slurry to thicken the gravy.
(makes 24 full size knishes)
- 4 cups of leftover stuffing
- 3 cups of cubed leftover turkey
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp. pepper
- salt for finishing (I like to use Maldon sea salt or a French flaky salt, but Kosher salt is OK too)
- 1- 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups cranberry sauce
- roasted onions, shallots, carrots, Brussels sprouts (whatever vegetables you have leftover), to get 1 cup of thinly sliced vegetables
Sage leaves waiting to be fried crisp for the knish dough and the garnish.
Sage Warm Water Knish Dough Ingredients
- 1 large bunch of sage leaves (20-40 leaves of all sizes)
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of canola oil
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup of warm water
- 1/2 tsp. of salt
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
- 1 egg and 1 Tbsp. water for an egg wash
1. Begin by making the fried sage leaves. You will need to make sure your leaves are completely dry before starting. Have a plate with a paper towel on it nearby and a slotted spoon. Heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil and the 1/4 cup of canola oil over medium heat in a small pan with a tight fitting lid. Once the oil is hot (if you splash a drop of water on it, it dances about and sizzles), with the lid in one hand, carefully toss in 1/4 of your sage leaves and immediately place the lid on top of the pot. The leaves will sizzle furiously. Once the sizzling stops, gently give the leaves one last stir and then carefully remove them and place them on the paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the leaves in 3 more batches.
2. Set the prettiest leaves aside as a garnish. The rest you will break into your dough.
3. Set the sage oil aside and let it cool.
4. In a food processor, with the steel knife, process the eggs, the 1/2 cup of cooled sage oil, and warm water for 5 seconds or until mixed.
5. Add to the egg mixture: salt, baking powder and flour. Process with 2-3 on/off pulses. Then crumble in the sage leaves. Process everything until just blended through.
In just a few seconds this mixture comes together into a beautiful knish dough. It is slightly sticky but easy to work with after it rests
6. Add a small handful of flour to a bowl just to coat. Put the sticky knish dough into the bowl and let it rest for 10 minutes while you prep your fillings.
You can see here in the top bowl how mashed the stuffing gets. It becomes more like a soft mashed potato texture than a stuffing texture. The bottom bowl holds the knish dough as it rests.
7. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a baking sheet with canola oil or some sort of oil spray.
8. Add 1/2 cup of stock and 2 tsp of pepper to your stuffing and mash it all together with a fork so you have a very soft mashed stuffing. If your stuffing is very dry you can add a little more. If you have a very soft stuffing you may need a little less.
9. Cube your turkey. You can do a mix of dark and light meat.
10. Add the zest of one lemon to your cranberry sauce.
Knish dough waiting to be filled
1. Now it is time to assemble. Divide your dough into four sections. Each section will be divided into six balls of dough for a total of 24. Working with one section at a time, make six balls of dough. On a floured counter or cutting board, roll out one dough ball at a time as thinly as possible. The dough will almost be see-through. Make sure you have no holes. If you have a hole, ball it up and start again.
Knishes ready for an egg wash and to be popped into the oven
2. Take your rectangle of dough and add in a tablespoon or so each of turkey and stuffing. Add in a few slices of vegetables and a 1 tablespoon of cranberry sauce. Adjust amount of filling to fit inside the dough. After the first one, you will have a good sense of how much is too much.
3. Carefully stretch the dough over the top of the stuffing pulling one side at a time over and layering them on top of one another. Then, flip the knish over so the seam is on the bottom and place it on the greased baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough. I like to bake 6 at a time, but you can do more if you like.
4. Blend your egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush the knishes with the egg wash and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake the knishes for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
To serve, garnish with a fried sage leaf, warm up some gravy and serve with a side of cranberry sauce. Enjoy your gourmet leftovers!