Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pelmeni: Russian Dumplings

Pelmeni are a Russian dumpling consisting of a ground meat and onion filling wrapped in a thin unleavened dough. Pelmeni are hearty and tasty, usually made in bulk and frozen for future yumminess. Pelmeni are a staple in my family and I'm sure they are for many other Russian families as well. Today I'm going to share my recipe for pelmeni with you. Thanks to my mother I'm a seasoned pelmeni making pro which makes sharing the recipe with you special because today is my mom's birthday.  Mom, this one's for you: )  

My mother taught me how to cook at a very young age and I remember that making pelmeni was one of the first things that I learnt to make. My mother (and my father) raised us kids, cooked meals from scratch, tackled many piles and piles of laundry, sewed, cared for the farm, worked and still had time to make pelmeni! I don't know how she did it but she wasn't the only one, many of my friends can relate and say the same thing about their mother's too. I'm just thankful that she took the time to teach me to cook especially all the traditional Russian recipes. I thank God that he Blessed our family with such a wonderful, hard-working and loving mom.
                           Thank you and Happy Birthday Mom!

Pelmeni making is all about, hours of rolling, cutting, filling, folding and pinching. I have many fond memories of making pelmeni from my childhood.  The whole family would gather around the kitchen table and make pelmeni.  Somehow my brother Hank managed to be exempt from making pelmeni because apparently he was "allergic" to the texture of flour. Conveniently he was never "allergic" to eating them though ;) Well I'm happy to say that even he makes pelmeni now a days, guess the love for pelmeni out weigh the "allergic" scam after all...heehee!

It was and still is a time that the family gets together and make pelmeni for hours and hours. The reward: fresh cooked pelmeni for dinner....yummy! Making the whole procedure total worth ever minute. Every couple of months my mother and I replenish the frozen stash of pelmeni. Pelmeni are tasty and true Russian cuisine. Try them for yourself by following the recipe below.


Dough ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup room temperature water

* Helpful Hint - oil is added to keep the pelmeni dough from cracking when frozen.*

Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir eggs, oil and water in a small bowl to combine.

 Pour wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Using your hands mix and combine ingredients. Knead the dough vigorously until smooth and very firm. Don't be alarmed if the dough is very firm, it should be! Add extra flour if needed. If the dough is too soft it makes it difficult to roll out and difficult to work with period. 

Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with saran wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature. This gives the gluten a chance to relax which makes it easier to work with and will keep the dough from shrinking and snapping back as you roll and cut it out. While the dough rests prepare the meat filling.

Filling ingredients:

1 lb ground beef (can use half pork if desired)
2-3 medium onions, finely chopped
salt to taste

In a bowl mix beef, chopped onion and salt together. Cover and set aside till needed. 

We always used ground beef to make pelmeni because we made large quantities of pelmeni which required a lot of meat but now that we make smaller batches we buy cuts of well-marbled beef then finely chop by hand or grind with a hand mixer. The meat stays moist, juicy and tender. Grinding your own beef makes the best pelmeni because the beef is fresh, not full of fillers and completely pure.

Fresh ground meat is the best and it isn't difficult to make. Check out this helpful site here for making homemade ground beef if you are wanting to try this method. 

Once the filling is prepared and the dough has rested it's time to make pelmeni! Unfortunately I didn't think to take photos while making the dough and the filling but it won't be long till I make them again so I will re-post with pictures at a later date.

I did take step-by-step pictures of making the pelmeni and here the are.....

~ How to shape pelmeni ~

Traditional the dough is cut into small pieces and each one is rolled into a circle, then shaped into a pelmen. It is way easier to use a pasta machine to roll out the dough. The pasta machine allows you to roll out the dough in bigger sheets, evenly and very thin. Then cut into rounds and shaped....this is very effective and helps speed up the process.

I usually cut the round dough ball into 4 even pieces and work with 1 at a time, cover the remain dough with plastic .  Roll 1 piece of dough into a 4 inch log and cut into even thickness slices/pieces (approximately 2 inch thickness) as shown.

Flatten each piece by hand so you can roll through # 1 setting of the pasta machine. I usually roll each piece out in this numerical order 1,3,5, finish on 6. 

The dough rounds on the left is hand pressed. The right hand side has been run through the pasta machine on #1.

This is rolled out on # 3. Still to thick, keep going.....;) 

This dough sheet is rolled out on # 6. 
Viola...the dough is thin enough and ready to cut into perfect rounds to shape into pelmeni. Remember to lightly dust with flour ever second time to avoid dough from sticking. If you don't have a pasta machine, no problem just roll out the dough by hand using a rolling pin. The desired thickness is 1/16 to 1/32 of an inch thick.

Cut out dough rounds with a round cutter. I use a metal round cutter with a scallop edge. Just my personal preference, use what works for you!! Save the dough scrap, collect them into a plastic baggie like Ziploc. You can reuse them, just re-knead the pieces into a ball, let the dough ball rest for 20-30 minutes to 'relax' and reuse. The second time around scrapes I also save, re-knead and with cut into spaghetti and thick egg noodles by hand or with the pasta machine. So you end up with pelmeni and fresh pasta...nice!!. Use pasta noodle right away or freeze on sheets and store in plastic baggies in freezer.

Back to pelmeni.....
Rounds are all cut and ready to shape. Don't they look so pretty already? Just you wait, they get even cuter....
Covered the cut rounds with a clean cloth or plastic wrap while working to unsure they don't dry out on you.
Once you get more efficient you won't need to because you'll be so quick!!

Place a teaspoon of the meat filling in the center of the dough round. You may need more or less depending on the size of your round cutter. There should be enough room around the edges to be able to pinch them shut.

Pinch the edges shut. If you run into the problem of the edges not sticking just moist with your finger, very lightly with water. 

This part may require a bit of trial and error, you need to use just enough flour to make sure the rounds don't stick together but also not too much that it makes it difficult to pinch together.

Bend the half moon shaped dough in
half again and bring the bottom edges together.

Connect the two bottom corners together and you just made you're very first pelmen....yay!! (Pelmeni is plural, pelmen is singular)

 See how cute they are!!
Looks like a little baby face's in a bonnet to me. I sometimes have the urge to paint some eyes, a nose and a mouth on...yes I know that's just silly but still....

I just couldn't!

Once you get the hang of shaping them, making them doesn't take very long.

Pelmeni ready to cook and eat...and the rest can be frozen on the sheet, then store in Ziploc baggies in freezer.

The best part about making pelmeni is eating freshly cooked pelmeni. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, Generously salt the water. Drop the pelmeni into the boiling water. Once the pelmeni float to the top, let them cook for an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon. 

Enjoy a nice bowl of pelmeni by themselves, with sour cream or your favorite choice of sauce. 

My favorite way to eat them is with ketchup and Worcestershire sauce combine in a little dish. Oh and don't worry if you have extra, they are good cold too or lightly fried.

I always knew that growing up in a Russian household meant doing things differently but when you are eating cold or reheated pelmeni for breakfast you know you're definitely Russian! Sometime we took them for lunch which always makes me think of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. She took Moussaka for her lunch and everyone thought it was weird.... well that was me. Lets just put it this way my lunch was always unique BUT I loved it!!

If you try only one Russian dish in your lifetime it should be Pelmeni!

Thanks for stopping by,


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Anonymous said...

Brings back fond memories. I totally forgot about Hanks little scam. Love the cute face!G

Katya said...

Yeah he had quite a few scams...haha! We have to make pelmeni for J man one day, I think he will like them beside it's a Russians rite of passage to experience pelmeni burps at least once in their lifetime right?!...haha!

Tulip said...

These are beautiful and I'm sure they are yummy too.

Rachel said...

Thank you for posting this recipe and other Russian recipes :) Pilmani are one of my favourite foods and I was so excited to make them for dinner tonight. Next time I'll add pepper and cabbage to the pilmani as my Babushka used to include these in the filling.

Katya said...

Thanks Rachel, I've never tried them with cabbage and pepper, sounds like it would be really good. I think I will have to try that next time. Thanks for the tip :)