The Recipe

Russian Meat Dumplings

As Yulia Converse, from Tver, Russia, taught Lindsay Sterling in Yarmouth, Maine, December 2011

Serves 8 as first course, appetizer or snack
Prep time 2-3 hours
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Meat mixture:

1/2 onion, minced
1 pound ground meat (pork and beef mixture is most popular)
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg yolk 

For dough:

2 1/2 cups flour plus extra for dusting
Dash of salt in flour
1 egg
1 cup really cold water

For cooking broth:

5 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt

Topping Choices:

2/3 cup sour cream
4 tsp butter
1 1/2 Tbsp vinegar (optional)
2 cups cooking broth w/ or w/0 bouillion
1/4 bunch Fresh dill

1. In a medium mixing bowl make the meat stuffing by squeezing together the meat, onion, garlic, salt and pepper with your hands until all are evenly incorporated. Wash and dry hands.

2. Spread flour generously over the counter, the rolling pin, and the tray on which you’ll place the completed raw raviolis.
3. Make the dough. Put 2 ½ cups flour in a mixing bowl and mix in salt. Make a little well in the middle of the flour. Crack the egg in the well. Get a cup of ice-cold water. Using your pointer finger, whirl the egg around to scramble it, and then start whirling the edges of the flour into the egg, pouring the water into the well as you keep mixing in more dried flour. There will be a moment when you’re hands are totally coated with gooey dough, and you’ll ask: is this right? Just keep kneading and adding flour. Once the dough is a smooth, uniform mass, pull it in half and form two balls. Leave one ball in the floury bowl covered with a damp towel. And put the other on the floured counter.
4. Roll out the dough. Pat the dough ball into a disc on the floured counter and roll out with the rolling pin until it is 1 mm thick. Sprinkle flour on any surfaces that stick (the counter, the rolling pin, the top of the dough) and spread flour around with hands.
5. Make the raviolis. Use an overturned teacup, small drinking glass or circular cookie cutter to cut out circles. Put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each circle. Separate the egg yolk from the white and scramble the yolk in a small dish. Use your finger or a tiny pastry brush to draw a rainbow of egg yolk (the glue) on the outer edge of the dough. Fold the dough-circle in half, aligning the edges. Press the facing edges together to seal the meat inside. Put the seamless side up and pull the pointy ends across each other on top of it, pressing the edges together. You should have a pelmen – the shape of a women’s pilgrim cap. As you finish each pelmen, place on a floured tray not touching one another and freeze. Once pelmeni are frozen put them all into a Ziplock and store in freezer for use as needed. Make the scraps into another ball of dough and repeat the process until you’re finished with the dough and filling.
6. Cook pelmeni (fresh or frozen) in boiling water with peppercorns, bay leaf, and salt, for 3-5 minutes after the pelmeni float. Serve hot with a dollop of butter, sour cream, vinegar, or cooking broth, and a sprinkling of fresh dill.

Copyright Lindsay Sterling January 2012