From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...While this Croatian side dish is a great addition to any cook's repertoire, it will be especially helpful to those who need budget dishes to round out family meals. Made with nothing more than eggs, flour and water, this simple dough can can be made more substantial with the addition of aromatics, vegetables and cheese, but in Croatia, this noodle-like flatbread, is dressed with meat or poultry drippings and served in the same way as we serve mashed potatoes here. The dish is an important part of Croatian Christmas dinner, and the noodles, coated with turkey drippings, are given a place of honor alongside the bird. While mlinci are served throughout the Balkans, the dish originated in Croatia. The noodles are actually made from a very thin, dried flatbread that is torn, re-hydrated and then baked for serving. Similar dishes can be found throughout the Middle-East where flatbread has long been known as a practical way to store perishable flour. Unlike pasta. which is made from hard wheat flour and can be stored for long periods of time without losing nutritional content, the soft wheat flour from which mlinci are made, is more likely to degrade, however, once it is baked it, too, can be stored for long periods of time as long as it is kept dry. While the noodles were once considered to be special food and, as such, they became associated with holidays and special occasions, that is no longer the case and they have become an everyday dish.They are actually quite easy to make and while I approached making them as a novelty, they are definitely worth making again. As I didn't have a turkey or the requisite drippings lying around, I dressed my noodles with a light roux based gravy. I could also have used a butter and parsley combination, but I thought the gravy would be a bit more figure friendly. If you are looking for an economical side dish that is a bit different, I hope you'll give these noodles a try. Here is how they are made.
Mlinci - Croatian Baked Noodles...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite slightly adapted from The Art and Mystery of Food - Balkan Protopasta
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of cold water
Extra flour for dusting
Boiling water for re-hydrating
1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) Place flour into a large bowl. Add egg to flour and incorporate. Add salt to water and stir to dissolve. Gradually add water mixture to dry ingredients and mix until a dough is formed. The dough should not be sticky at this point. If it is, add slightly more flour.
3) Knead dough on lightly floured bench for eight minutes. Divide dough into 4 balls. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Allow to rest for 1 hour.
4) Roll each of 4 dough balls out, using a rolling pin until very thin, about 1/16 inch thick.
5) Rest dough, uncovered, for an hour to dry out a little. Place disks carefully onto baking parchment and cook until disks have blistered, dried and are a light tan color, about 20 minutes.
6) Leave to cool. At this point they can be stored, and as long as they are moisture-free they will remain fresh for many weeks.
7) To use, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bring salted water to a boil. Break mlinci disks into pieces and place in a bowl. Cover with salted boiling water and let sit for 10 minutes to soften. Drain well. Toss with de-greased pan drippings or a light gravy and place in a baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Yield: 4 servings.
Cook's Note: Sauted mushrooms, bacon and/or onions can be mixed with mlinci before baking.
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