Sunday, August 3, 2008

Making Pelmeni, Basic Pasta Dough

For mom's birthday I decided to make her some pelmeni (Russian dumplings) with my awesome new pelmeni-maker. I learned about this clever device when we had crazy Russian neighbors on Jackson Street, and the babushka of the house invited us over and made a batch of pelmeni. I hadn't come across the mold in any of the Russian stores around town so I turned to eBay and sure enough I found it there. I ordered it and it was delivered within 3 weeks for under $25. It's a fantastic way to decrease the labor involved in making tasty, tasty little dumplings.

<--My fabulous pelmeni mold!

The instructions that came with it were very poorly translated into English, but Joe's roommate was able to translate them much better from the original Russian. So far I've only made meat-filled pelmeni, but the possibilities for fillings are boundless and could involve potatoes, vegetables, kasha, or whatever you can think up. Here's the step-by-step process I used with recipes along the way:

The Dough

This is a basic egg pasta dough and can be used for making noodles or dumplings of any kind.

2 c. all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
cold water
extra flour for kneading

Mix the flour and salt. In a large bowl or directly on the counter, form the flour into a pile with a well in the center . Crack the eggs into the well. With one hand, mix the dough until it starts to combine. Add the cold water with your other hand until the dough begins to cohere. Start kneading, adding flour as necessary to keep it fromsticking, until the dough is smooth and fairly stiff. Wrap in plastic wrap or a moist towel and allow to rest for 1 hour or more.

After the dough's rested, pinch off golf-ball sized pieces for each round to line the pelmeni mold. When rolling out the dough, add LOTS of flour to keep it from sticking. If you add enough flour you can manipulate the dough with ease, folding or rolling it up when need be.

If you're not making pelmeni, simply roll the dough out nice and thin and either cut it with a pasta maker or use a knife. To cut with a knife you can do it free-hand or roll up large sheets of rolled-out dough into tubes and slice crosswise into whatever width you like. You will wind up with little curled up noodle spirals, which you should gently unravel and toss with flour too keep them from sticking while you're working. See the photo here. Either freeze them at this point for later use, or boil them in salted water until they rise to the top.

NOTE: For mom I made the dough with spelt flour, which works pretty well but is very delicate due to the low protein content. The higher the protein content of the flour, the more water you'll need to add and the more pliable the dough will be.

Basic Meat Filling

1 lb ground meat (half pork/half beef or chicken are good options)
1 medium onion
a good handful of parsley
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp ground pepper

Place the onion and parsley in a food processor with the blade attachment and mince finely. Otherwise do your best with a knife. Add the meat, salt, and pepper and chop together until fine but not pureed.

Assembling the Pelmeni

1. Roll out the dough so that it is very thin, less than 1/8". Place the dough over the mold and allow it to relax into the holes for a minute or so.

2. Place 1/2 tsp. filling in each hole.

3. Roll out another circle of dough and place this over the filled mold. Gently press each circle of the mold so that the bottom layer of dough stretches to accommodate the filling.

4. Roll a rolling pin over the mold, pressing down hard so that the dough is cut on the edge of each dumpling. Work from the outside in, being careful not to rupture any of the cells or leave any un-rolled.

5. Remove the excess dough and make sure the rolling was complete.

6. Turn the mold upside down and knock/poke out the dumplings. Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze. Once they are frozen through, store them in a ziploc bag. They should last for many months.

Cooking the Pelmeni

To cook them, throw the frozen pelmeni into salted boiling water. Boil them until they float and wrinkle up a bit, about 5-10 minutes. The simplest way to serve them is tossed with melted butter, and it is traditional to dress them with some vinegar as well.

You can boil and drain them and fry them in fat, with or without meat and/or vegetables.

You can also serve them in broth, either boiling them in the broth or adding it separately. The water from boiling them can serve as broth in a pinch, especially if one of the dumplings spills its contents.

They are so tender and delicious that it's best to keep your broth simple. I like to pick one vegetable as an accompaniment, such as carrots or leafy greens. This picture was made with the following recipe:

Boil 20-30 pelmeni in well-salted water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile steam some carrot pieces. Reserve 1 cup of the water from boiling. Heat up some chicken broth. Combine the chicken broth, pelmeni water, carrots, pelmeni with 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, black pepper, and a handful of chopped chives.


Summer said...

Thanks for sharing! i like this mold, i might get one like it. :)

The Middle Child said...

There was a pelmeni shop in Madison (incidentally called "Pelmeni") that served pelmeni either with a bit of a melted butter, or with a bit of cilantro, curry, and sriracha sauce on top. It was frickin' delicious, though it then got bogged down in some sort of insane legal dispute and hasn't been the same since. The point being that they can be served dry.

Anonymous said...

Great directions - detailed and useful. When I was growing up, a popular way it was served was simply with a side of sour cream. I believe topping with dill was not uncommon either.

Anonymous said...

хороший рецепт. такие формы выпускали в годах 90 прошлого столетия. очень хорошая и рациональная. я пользуюсь формами для равиоли. для фарша, -очень важно добавить холодной воды.
где-то есть еще рецеат "заварного теста" для пельменей. пробовал и делали. для свежих пельмешек - очень хорошо. удачи, сделал тесто по вашему рецепту, но из 4 стаканов - 1 был Semolina. твердый зимний сорт пшеницы. машинка любит ее.

teplorodor said...

Yeah, that mold is wonderful invention!

also on eBay it’s possible to buy this mold,
here I found really cheap one:

I have already ordered it!

Bull said...

The best is to make it with lamb minced meat and serve with creme fraiche