How to eat pelmeni – I am an ardent vinegar-and-sour-cream-in-my-pelmeni kinda gal. But even some of my closest friends have old me that I’m “doing it wrong” – adding only one or the other. I, however, firmly stand my ground – it’s vinegar AND sour cream for me. If you think that mixing sour cream and vinegar is blasphemy, let’s agree to disagree. Everyone is deeply committed to their way of pelmeni consumption and there won’t ever be consensus, though a few of my friends have now crossed over to my mixing ways. Also, you can add a dollop of butter on top of your cooked pelmeni in addition to sour cream and/or vinegar – if you want to go all out.

Lastly, on the subject of dough – in the past, my mother and I have have used wonton wrappers to make our pelmeni – it really does save you some time, although for a most celestial experience, making your dough is essential. Still, the wonton wrappers, in a pinch, do the trick with much gusto. And might be a good “intro” way of making your own pelmeni at home.

For the Dough:
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup very cold water, plus up to 1/4 more, if needed

For the Filling:
1/2 pound ground beef (you want to use fattier ground beef her, not leaner)
1/2 pound ground pork
2 medium-size onions, finely chopped (or pureed in the food processor, read on)
1/4 cup crushed ice, or very cold ice water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Bay leaves
Peppercorns (both for when you cook your pelmeni)

To Make Dough:

In the food processor, fitted with the metal blade, blend the flour and salt. With the motor running, add the egg, then, in a slow and steady stream, pour the water. Process until the dough forms into a ball and hangs around the blade. Transfer dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, soft, and pliable for 2-3 minutes. Cover with a clean kitchen towel (linen or cotton) and allow to stand for 30 minutes (this softens the glutens). While the dough is “hanging out”, prepare your filling.

To Make the Filling:

In a large bowl, combine all the filling ingredients. [If your fridge doesn’t make crushed ice (mine doesn’t), you can take your ice and pound it, lightly, in a ziploc bag, using a hammer, or a mallet.]

To Assemble Pelmeni:
Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Keep 3 parts covered under a towel.

If Using Pelmeni Mold:
On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a little thicker than 1/10-inch thick. [You want this to be thicker than if you shape the pelmeni by hand (see below) – because the with the pelmeni mold, you will have to get the pelmeni out, plus you will place a rolling pin on top to roll, so your dough will need to be a little bit thicker and more durable.] The rolled-out dough should be slightly bigger than your pelmeni mold. Drape the dough over the mold and fill each opening (usually a hexagon) with a generous ½ teaspoon filling. Roll out the second piece of dough and drape it over the meat filling. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the pin until the pelmeni are formed. Take the pelmeni mold, flip it over a floured baking sheet and bang it a few times (like a tambourine!) to release the pelmeni from the mold. [I learned this trick with my last batch, and had to deal with some ugly pelmeni in the mix.] Flash-freeze pelmeni for 30 minutes, before placing them into a ziploc bag. Frozen pelmeni should store for up to 3 months.

If Shaping Pelmeni by Hand:
On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a little thicker than 1/16-inch thick (let’s say 1/13 or so). Basically, you want it thin, but not transluscent. Use a cookie cutter, or a glass, to cut out 2 ½-inch circles. When done cutting, lift the non-circle part, clump it together and place under a towel to reroll later.** {write about cooking a single pelmen here}

Place 1/2 teaspoon filling toward the bottom of one circle. Fold the other half over it, pick the circle up and, using your thumb and index finger, press the edges of the dough together until a semi-circle is formed. Take the two ends of the semi-circle, bring them together and connect. You have made your first “pelmen”. Continue with the remaining circles, and other pieces of dough, until you have run out of dough, or filling, whichever comes first. As you’re making the pelmeni, place them on a floured baking sheet. When the sheet gets full, place the entire baking sheet in the freezer for half an hour. Once the pelmeni are flash-frozen, you can transfer them into a ziploc bag where they will keep for up to 3 months.

When Ready to Cook:

Bring about 4 cups of generously salted water to a boil with a bay leaf and a few peppercorns flavoring your water. Drop 30-40 pelmeni in and cook 6-8 minutes, stirring with a spoon occasionally to prevent sticking. With a slotted spoon, carefully remove pelmeni from the water into 2 bowls. Add a teaspoon of vinegar to each bowl and a teaspoon of sour cream. Combine and eat immediately.

Makes about 100 pelmeni.

© 2018 Olga Massov