Let’s kibitz about knish. Have you tried these precious parcels of potato-filled pastry?! Not to toot our own ram’s horn, but we think our take on this Jewish specialty is truly something to write home about.
Knishtory Worth Knowing
Writer Laura Silver says, “You can find a good knish, you just have to know where to look.” If you live around Ann Arbor, or if you’re up for having them shipped in, the ZCoB is a good place to start your search. Silver, author of Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food, has her family roots in the Polish town of Knyszyn, in the northeastern part of the country near what’s now the border with Lithuania. Jews were a prominent presence in the community, dating back from about 1600 on through until the Holocaust, and Knyszyn is considered by many to be the historical home of the knish. Wherever they originated, knishes have long been part of Eastern European Jewish comfort food, especially for those with less financial means. Mashed potatoes (or it could also be kasha, which is buckwheat) stuffed into a pocket of dough which was then fried or baked. Knishes, then and now, offered an inexpensive and filling way to eat, especially at this time of year when fresh vegetables were not to be found in that part of the world. The Yiddish writer Sholom Aleichem, who was born in Pereyaslav in central Ukraine 164 years ago last week, wrote knishes into his famous story “Tevye the Dairyman,” (which 100 years later became the Broadway show film “Fiddler on the Roof”). Imagining a feast he’d like to go to, Tevye declares, “We’ll start right in on the knishes.”
Growing up as I did in Chicago and not New York, I have no memory of my mother bringing home knishes. I experienced them first I think when I went to the famous Yonah Schimmel’s on the Lower East Side in New York, where they’ve been making knishes in much the same style since 1890. Schimmel came here committed to teaching spirituality, but there was no money in that so his wife started making knishes. It’s said that it was the first knishery in the country. We could, though, consider the knish a spiritual eating experience!
Knish and Tell
Once upon a time, the most beautiful queen in all the land, Anita Knish, was making handmade savory Jewish pastries. One day, she was visited by a dapper dancing sandwich man. “Who are you and why are you interrupting my baking?!” the Knish Queen of Ann Arbor exclaimed. “I am Bread Astaire and I think your Zingerman’s Knishes do it right, do it big and do it with style!” Then they fell madly in love. And that’s what happened, true story.
Okay… maybe not, but that’s our story, and we’re sticking to it!
We’ve got four phenomenal filling choices for our knish, each of which is wrapped in our flaky handmade dough that’s made with Zingerman’s Creamery farm cheese, local sour cream, butter, and flour with (shhhhhh, it’s our not-so-secret ingredient) …a bit of yellow mustard. It’s true, the mustard is a slightly unconventional addition, but it replaces the traditional vinegar and adds a subtle, welcome zip to the dough—we’re pretty positive your Bubbe would approve!
A classic combination of roasted chicken and Yukon Gold potatoes with onions and rich, delicious chicken fat (schmaltz), finished with a light dusting of freshly cracked Tellicherry black pepper.
The original starch on starch and the most traditional of our knish. It’s filled with kasha (aka roasted buckwheat) and onions, finished with a light dusting of caraway seeds.
Our best selling variety of these Jewish pastries features the comforting combo of herbed mashed Yukon Gold potatoes and onions.
This one isn’t traditional, but it’s a staff favorite, and dare we say it… our best knish yet! It features Zingerman’s pastrami and red-skinned potatoes, finished with a sprinkle of cracked coriander seeds.
There’s no wrong way to eat a knish, but we like ours served hot, with a side of good mustard. Enjoy one as an appetizer, midday snack, or served alongside a soup or sandwich. Stashing knish in your freezer means you’ll always have some on hand when the mood strikes for serious comfort food.
Baking Instructions for Frozen Knish
(No need to memorize this, we also put it on the label)
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Remove the plastic lid from the knish 6-pack.
- Place the knish 6-pack and its metal baking tray in the oven, uncovered.
- Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 165° F
Find a Knish to Nosh
Order Zingerman’s Deli Knish: