“Prune pockets,” a traditional Austro-Hungarian recipe, was one of my family’s favorite comfort foods when I was a child, growing up in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. My mother, a native German who was born and raised in the former Yugoslavia, told us that her mother, as well as her mother’s mother, made prune pockets “in the old country,” and I know my father, born in Budapest, Hungary, also ate them as a child. Basically, the dough is a potato gnocchi formed into pockets and stuffed with sweetened prunes, then boiled in salted water and finally browned in breadcrumbs and butter. Does anything sound more delicious or comforting? When I just can’t deal with life, or my next writing project, there are always prune pockets. Just be forewarned: one is never enough.
1 russet potato
1 whole egg
1 - 2 cups all purpose flour
25 - 30 prunes
½ to ¾ cup bread crumbs
Boil prunes in sugared water, roughly 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool; drain and remove pits. Separately, boil potato in the skin, roughly 15 minutes; peel. In same bowl, mash potato, then add egg, flour and a pinch of salt. Knead into dough, and roll out on floured board and cut into squares. In center of each, add 2 - 3 prunes and a teaspoon of sugar. Pinch opposite sides of square up to seal in prune and create pocket. Place all pockets on a floured surface to prevent sticking. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Drop each pocket in water; stir gently, to prevent sticking. Return water to boil, cooking another 2 - 3 minutes. Remove pockets from water with slotted spoon. In a large frying pan, brown bread crumbs in butter until slightly golden. Add pockets to bread crumb mixture and fry evenly, turning to prevent burning, until crispy and browned. Serve by sprinkling sugar over each pocket before eating. Makes roughly 8 prune pockets.
The potato dough can also be rolled out and cut into “fingers,” then boiled as above and fried in bread crumbs and butter until browned. Serve as a side dish instead of potato.