A delicious part of your
Christmas Eve & Good Friday meatless meal
I don’t remember much of my Slovakian grandmother making pagach but I do remember fondly as a kid of my mother, every Good Friday and Christmas Eve, making this from scratch. It was a ritual twice every year. Mom would have one in the oven and getting another rolled out in our tiny kitchen. When the one in the oven came out she would place it inside a towel on a bed in my room which was closest to the kitchen. She would always pause at 3:00p and until 3:15p which is the customary time believed when Jesus died on the Cross. Who ever was home would also stop and say prayers for those 15 mins.
In the Slovak countries of the Czech Republic and Slovakia there is one dish that is so delicious made only twice yearly that it usually doesn’t have leftovers. Here is a recipe for Slovakian Pagach which you’ll find on SlavicCooking.com, but be forewarned!!! It is so delicious and so fattening. I’m already increasing supplies of my Lipitor and insulin meds just for this.
This recipe for Slovakian Pagach is commonly as an Easter dish but it is also used for Christmas Vigil meatless Dinner.
Twice a year most Slavs and other Southern European cultures traditionally have meatless days of abstinence on the 2 days before the major Christian holidays. These days are Christmas Eve and Good Friday. Many Slavic cultures also include Holy Saturday as a day of abstinence from meat before celebrating the Holy-est Day of Easter Sunday.
Our menus vary from ethnic group to ethnic group but the one constant is breads, fish and vegetables. There is the pierogi, flounder, shrimp, horseradish and sauerkraut dishes. And on Christmas Eve is the bobalky.
Why Is Good Friday Good?
Good Friday, the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified, is one of the most sacred days in the Christian calendar. Under the Rules for Fasting and Abstinence in the Catholic Church, Good Friday is a day of strict fasting (only one full meal, and two small snacks that don’t add up to to a full meal) and abstinence from all meat and foods made with meat. This abstinence is a form of penance in honor of the death of Christ on the Cross.
Question: If Good Friday is the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified, why is Good Friday called good?
Answer: Why is Good Friday “good”? That question puzzles not only children but many adults as well. After all, it isn’t obvious that we should call Good Friday good, since it is the day on which our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified. How can Good Friday be good when it commemorates the day on which the sins of mankind brought about the death of our Savior?
The Baltimore Catechism declares that Good Friday is called good because Christ, by His Death, “showed His great love for man, and purchased for him every blessing.” Good, in this sense, means “holy,” and indeed Good Friday is known as Holy and Great Friday among Eastern Christians, both Catholic and Orthodox. Good Friday is also known as Holy Friday in the Romance languages.
Thus the answer given by the Baltimore Catechism seems a good explanation, except for the fact that Good Friday is called good only in English. In its entry on Good Friday, the Catholic Encyclopedia notes that:
The origin of the term Good is not clear. Some say it is from “God’s Friday” (Gottes Freitag); others maintain that it is from the German Gute Freitag, and not specially English.
Sometimes, too, the day was called Long Friday by the Anglo-Saxons; so today in Denmark. If Good Friday were called good because English adopted the German phrase, then we would expect Gute Freitag to be the common German name for Good Friday, but it is not. Instead, Germans refer to Good Friday as Karfreitag—that is, Sorrowful or Suffering Friday—in German.
So, in the end, the historical origins of why Good Friday is called Good Friday remain unclear, but the theological reason is very likely the one expressed by the Baltimore Catechism: Good Friday is good because the death of Christ, as terrible as it was, led to the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, which brought new life to those who believe.
The theological reason for the name
By: Scott P. Richert
- 2 lb of fresh, frozen-then-thawed white bread or pizza dough
- or you can use the following recipe for the dough
- 1 cup Warm water (approx. 110°F)
- 1 Tbsp Sugar
- 2 Pkg (0.50 oz) Active Dry Yeast
- 6 cups (28.8 oz) bread flour
- 0.70 oz Vital Wheat Gluten (optional)
- 2 tsp coarse salt
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ to 1 cups more of warm water (110° F)
- 4 med potatoes; boiled
- NO additional liquids
- 1 tsp salt (or more to flavor)
- 1 cup (or more) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Lots of melted butter
- Boil potatoes in salted water
- Mash the potatoes
- Add salt to flavor; mix
- Allow potatoes to slightly cool
- Add cheddar cheese
- Mix well into the potato, cover and set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Dissolve sugar and yeast in 1 cup warm 110°F water.
- In a large bowl or in the bowl of a 5-quart stand mixer, add all the remaining dry ingredients and blend well.
- Using dough hook and mixer on 2nd to lowest setting, add the proofed yeast.
- Add the oil into the mixing bowl.
- Slowly add the remaining water a little at a time until dough forms a nice elastic ball.
- Knead for a total of no more than 5-6 minutes from start to finish.
- When dough is finished mixing, remove dough from pan and place into a lightly-oiled bowl.
- Do not skip this next step!!!!!!!
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough do a slow rise for 18 - 24 hours in the refrigerator before using.
- Pre-heat over to 375 F and grease and flour cookie sheet(s),
- Take about ⅓ to ½ of the dough depending on the size of your cookie sheet and place on a well floured surfaced,
- Flatten dough and add a handful of potatoes ( sauerkraut) to the center of the dough,
- Draw up and twist edges together to seal potatoes into the dough,
- Put twisted side down into the flour,
- Press carefully with your flat hand all around, then roll out slowly so the filling will not break through,
- Carefully roll to about ⅛" to ¼" thick to fit size of the cooking sheet,
- NOTE: Keep the surface of the dough well floured to prevent rolling pin from sticking,
- Place both hands under pagach and put on prepared cookie sheet,
- Hint: You can carefully fold the pagach in half to make it easier to place on cookie sheet and unfold,
- Bake in the oven for about 20 min on lower section of oven,
- Check for done-ness after about 15-20 mins - top should be a nice medium-golden color. If not then you can flip the pagach over and cook until desired done-ness,
- Remove and place in a folded large clean lightly damp towel and set aside till ready to serve,
- Repeat for the remaining dough and potatoes (or other filling).
- When ready for dinner, melt 2 sticks (½ cup) of butter.
- Warm the pagach loosely covered with foil for a few minutes in the oven.
- Use a pizza cutter to slice into minimum 6" squares and put on a serving plate.
- Generously brush melted butter with a pasty brush, roll up, eat and enjoy!