pelmeni and perogi

Posted on May 18, 2016

The Year of the Dumpling continues! We first had pelmeni, a Russian meat dumpling topped with sour cream, at our friends Yevgenia and Austin’s house, another couple with a deep affection for dumplings. But before we get into dumplings, let’s talk about the Davises. Yevgenia and Austin radiate positivity. I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase ‘joie de vivre’ and meant it seriously, but these two embody it. I leave an evening with them feeling like I’ve spent a week on a wellness retreat. Now, I don’t have much firsthand experience with wellness retreats, and probably won’t need to as long as we’re friends with the Davises, but I’ve seen it in the movies.

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This recipe is based on Yevgenia’s mother’s recipe, which I tried my best to decode while making dumplings at the Davis house. This is another case of simple is best. Lamb, pork, onion, salt. Done. The lamb is makes this dish. It’s so good. Earthy and distinct.

The potato perogi recipe is inspired by a product that Trader Joe’s sold when Jordan and I where in high school. Amateur gourmets we were, we’d cook the perogis in the microwave and then dip them alternatively in marinara sauce and balsamic vinegar. Tragically, Trader Joe’s has discontinued their perogis, which left us no choice but to make our own. Think twice baked potato wrapped in dumpling skin and you’ve got the flavor profile.

And, lastly, before you think, “Sour cream and vinegar. You monster! Have all of those dumplings gone to your head?!”. Try it. It is so good.

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Perogi – Cheese and Potato Dumplings
Makes 24 dumplings
3 red potatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 yellow onion, grated
salt and pepper
~1/2 package dumpling wrappers (Asian dumpling wrappers work just fine)

Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Put them in a medium saucepan and top with cold water. Bring to a boil and boil until tender. Drain the potatoes and mash them with a fork. Add the sour cream, cheddar cheese, onion and mix. Season with salt and pepper. Make sure they’re well seasoned now, bland dumplings will be a tragic waste of effort.

Lay out a few rows of dumpling wrappers. Put about a tablespoon of filling in the middle, brush the edges with a  little water, and then fold over and seal. These are a half moon shaped dumpling.

To cook the dumplings, you can boil them or pan fry them. Both are delicious. They will take just a few minutes in boiling water—enough to warm them and melt the cheese. If you like your dumplings a little crispy, pan fry them until they are golden in spots. Serve with sour cream, white vinegar and dill.

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Pelmeni – Lamb and Pork Dumplings
Makes 36 dumplings 
1/2 lb lamb shoulder, ground on the small die (or ground lamb)
1/2 lb pork shoulder, ground on the small die (or ground pork)
1/2 yellow onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
~1 package dumpling wrappers (Asian dumpling wrappers work just fine)
sour cream
white vinegar
fresh dill

In a large bowl, combine your ground lamb and ground pork. Like I’ve previously mentioned, my husband is a huge fan of his meat grinder and so I let him grind some lamb and pork shoulder fresh for me. We’re fancy like that. You can feel free to use pre-ground lamb or pork. Make sure your pork is fatty.

Combine the lamb, pork, grated onion, garlic. Season well with salt and pepper. I’d start with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Then do a little taste test by cooking up a small piece. It’s worth the extra effort now to make sure your seasoning is spot on.

Lay out your dumpling wrappers. Put a scant tablespoon of filling into the center of each dumpling. Brush the edges with a little water using your finger. Fold in half and seal. Then fold the two corners onto one another to create a tortolini type of shape.

To cook the dumplings, bring a pot of water to boil. Boil the dumplings for about 5-8 minutes, until they are floating, Then scoop them out of the water and into a bowl. Top generously with sour cream, white vinegar and dill.

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