I first discovered this cuisine at Paul’s Pelmeni in Madison, Wisconsin on the UWM campus, and was blown away by how decadent and satisfying these little dumplings were.
This is a dish traditionally served in Russia, originating in the Ural mountains and other areas of Siberia. It is an incredibly popular comfort food made with a wide variety of ingredients. They can even be made as a dessert, using cheese and fruit. Similar to the Polish Pierogi and Slavic Varenyky, the dumplings are either boiled or fried and then served with butter, salt, pepper and sour cream. Other garnishes include chopped scallion, dill, vinegar, soy sauce — or as featured at Paul’s — their signature hot yellow Indian curry powder.
For convenience, a large batch can be made and then frozen for future meals.
You can make these individually by hand, using a two-inch circular dough cutter or by using a traditional Pelmeni form. This is an inexpensive kitchen tool and speeds up the preparation while providing consistent results. Enjoy —
For the Dough~
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
Flour for dusting your work surface
For the Filling~
1 pound ground beef, or 1/2 pound ground pork and 1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
3 tbs. milk
2 cups loose baby spinach, finely chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped from the stem
To prepare the dough, combine the dry ingredients and beaten eggs in a mixing bowl or food processor with dough blade. Turn on the unit and then slowly add the buttermilk, stopping when the dough mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Remove the dough and knead on a floured surface for two minutes. Shape into a ball and set aside covered in plastic wrap for one-half hour.
To prepare the meat filling, combine the ground beef (or mixture of beef and pork), salt, pepper, chopped spinach, minced onion, garlic and thyme in a work bowl. Add the milk and use two large forks to gently mix so the filling ingredients are uniformly distributed. DO NOT overwork the filling.
Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Starting with one piece, roll it out uniformly into a 15″ circle on a floured work surface. Flip it over and lightly dust the back with flour. Proceed to the next step by either cutting out circles or placing the dough on the Pelmeni form, floured side down. (This will ensure the dough and filling is pushed through the mold without sticking.)
Using a teaspoon melon ball scoop, add the beef mixture to the dough. If using the Pelmeni form, ensure that the filling is exactly over each hole in the form. Roll out the second dough ball using the same method and cover the Pelmeni form with the dough. Lightly dust your rolling pin and firmly press down on the Pelmeni form, working from the center outward. The individual dumplings should pop out the bottom. If they don’t, you can use an appropriately-sized pestle or your thumb to gently push them through.
If using cut-out dough circles, place the mixture in the center and then gently fold the dough over, forming a crescent. Gently crimp the edges to seal the dumplings.
For either method, arrange the dumplings set aside on lightly-floured parchment paper.
Heat three quarts of water until boiling with one teaspoon salt. Add the dumplings to the water in batches, ensuring you don’t overcrowd the pot.
When the dumplings float to the top, set your timer for five minutes. Then remove the dumplings with a spider strainer, drain and serve immediately with butter, sour cream and salt and pepper. Minced chives, scallion or dill may also be added as a garnish.
Yield: About 60 dumplings. Excess dough trimmings can be reformed and rolled or frozen to avoid waste.
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