Pelmeni (Пельмени)

This traditional Russian dish is one of my childhood favorites and a great comfort food.

This is my ultimate comfort food, and basically the Russian version of pierogies, ravioli, or dumplings. I have memories of my parents cooking this dish together–my mom would make the filling while my dad made the dough and stuffed the dumplings–and of the heavenly aroma that would fill the kitchen while the pelmeni cooked. This recipe does take some work, but the reward is definitely worth it. Not only are they delicious, but you could easily get several meals out of one recipe that you can stretch out for a few weeks or months even. You can also split the work between two days by making the dough the day before and refrigerating it overnight. You just have to make sure it’s back to room temperature before working with it.

Yield: 4-5 dozen pelmeni. You can also double the recipe to get twice as much. (The pictures were taken making the doubled recipe.)

Filling Ingredients

  • 1/4 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 of a Spanish onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Black pepper to taste

Dough Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached organic white flour (+ extra for kneading the dough)
  • 3/4 cup water, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt

You will also need 2-3 bay leaves and water for cooking and butter for serving.

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Method

In a food processor, process onion until it’s paste-like. Add meat, salt, and pepper, and pulse until everything is mixed. Set aside.

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In a big bowl, add 2 cups of flour, make a well in the center, and add egg, salt, and water.

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With a wooden spoon, start to gently mix everything together until the dough starts to form, then switch to using your hands. Add the last cup of flour a little bit at a time, kneading the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic.

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Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 40-60 minutes.

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Once the dough has rested, flour a flat surface and a rolling pin, and divide the dough in half or thirds (my working space is small so I do thirds).

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Roll out your dough portion until it is about 1/4 of an inch thick.

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Using a round cookie cutter or glass, cut out 1 1/2 to 2 inch circles.

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Put 3/4 to 1 tsp of filling in the middle of the circle, pinch the edges, and fold in to form the dumpling (see the picture). You can, of course, form it into whatever shape you’d like, but these are the most traditional shape for pelmeni.

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Arrange the pelmeni on a baking sheet lined with foil. Freeze for about 40 minutes.

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From here,  you can either put them in a freezer bag and keep them frozen (for up to 3-4 months), continue with the directions to cook them right away, or split the batch and do both.

Boil water in a pot. Once the water starts to boil, add 2-3 bay leaves and at least 1 tsp of salt. Add pelmeni, and stir gently so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Once the pelmeni start to float, turn the heat down and allow them to simmer for 7-9 minutes.

Serve with butter, mayonnaise, vinegar, or a little bit of the cooking water.

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Приятного аппетита! (Priyatnova appetita! Russian for ‘Bon Appetit!’)

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