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This week in Omnivorous I wrote about Wanda Kurek and her 72-year-old Whiskey Row tavern Stanley's. I wanted her to give us a recipe for one of her big, hearty lunch specials, but she keeps all that stuff in her head and didn't want to give one up. So I asked bartender Guy Vanek for his mom's Czech dumpling recipe, which he occasionally whips up if he arrives for work early enough. I've had them. They're dense, a bit chewy, and great for sopping up Wanda's roast pork gravy. Here goes, verbatim:
Vanek: "When the bar's full here, I do 20 eggs. And I whip 'em up maybe like scrambled eggs, you know? I do salt and pepper to taste. And then about nine and half scoops of flour.* And then I put a little milk in there--whole milk, it's gotta be Vitamin D milk. It can't be 2 percent, otherwise they come out furry like a peach. And we don't like that shit. And then you make them into a ball like, you know?"
Q: Wait a minute. How much milk?
Vanek: "I kind of look at it. I don't know, three, four ounces. And then you whip all that shit together there. And when it comes to ball, it's gotta kind of look like beige--the color. And it can't be too sticky because then they come out not so good. They gotta kind of be like more solid. And then you boil water and you salt the hell out of the water in a big old pot. And you just scoop them out little by little, like about the size of . . . I don't know, how can I put this?"
Q: How long do you boil them?
Vanek: "Until they float. About the size of a fat thumb--that'd be the best thing I could say about that. I could do an analogy but that wouldn't go good in the paper. And then you let them float there and you just scoop them out. Then I use I Can't Believe It's Not Butter in a pan. You put them in and the margarine soaks in there. And they're great."
*"Like a big soup spoon."