Pelmeni is one of the most traditional dishes in Ukraine and Russia. Growing up, pelmeni was my favorite food. I was one of those kids that lived practically on air and getting me to eat was an everyday struggle for my mom but she never had to call me twice to dinner when I knew that pelmeni was being served. My older brother and I used to have competitions who would eat more pelmeni in 15 minutes. I may have been little but I was quick and very competitive, so as you can imagine, I won most of the time.
I always used to say that when I grow up the first thing I want to learn how to cook is pelmeni. Well I did. The first time I made them, I will admit, they were not very good. I put too much flour into the dough and after cooking them, they were too hard and tasteless. I learned quickly from that mistake. The second try was much better but there was still something missing. The third time I added vegetable and herbs to the filling and they were finally perfect. Now I make them for my kids and they love them as much as I do.
Recently I began sharing them with my friends, I began receiving requests for orders, and I got to teach one of my friends how to make them. They have become very popular in the circle of moms. Moms are busy and dinner sometimes is either a take out or a simple sandwich but if you have a batch of pelmeni in your freezer you can serve your family with a healthy, full, and delicious dinner in just 15 minutes.
Although making pelmeni is very time consuming but one day of work gets you five easy dinners. Pelmeni are much easier to make when you have a friend to help and the girls chat really makes time fly by quickly.
So give it a try, you won’t regret it.
For the dough –>
2/3 Cup of buttermilk
1 Tablespoon of sour cream
2 Cups of warm water
2 Large eggs
1/2 Tablespoon of salt
7 1/2 Cups of all purpose flour (plus an additional 1 cup for dusting)
For the chicken/beef filling –>
2 Pounds of ground chicken
2 Pounds of grass fed ground beef
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 Small onion chopped finely
1 Small carrot grated finely
4 cloves of garlic grated finely or pressed
1 Tablespoon of finely chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon of finely chopped dill
1/4 cup of water
3/4 Teaspoon of salt
1/4 Teaspoon of black pepper
HOW TO PREPARE THE DOUGH:
1. Whisk at medium speed or by hand: 2 cups of water, 2/3 cup of buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon of sour cream, and 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt until well blended.
2. Add 4 cups of flour to the liquid mixture and mix it well. You can use a dough mixer or if you don’t have one, you can use a hand-held-mixer while mixing the first 3 cups of flour and then continue mixing by hand.
3. Add 3 more cups of flour one cup at a time. If you are mixing by hand, fold the dough like an envelope while mixing. Make sure the flour is well blended.
4. Add the rest of the flour to the dough. Add 1 tablespoon at a time until you notice that the dough no longer sticks to the bowl yet still soft and fluffy.
5. Cover the dough with plastic or a towel to prevent it from drying. Set it aside and prepare the filling.
HOW TO PREPARE THE FILLING:
1. Pre-heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add 1 small finely chopped onion and 4 grated (or pressed) cloves of garlic and saute until golden and soft.
2. Add 1 small finely grated carrot, 1/4 cup of water, and saute for another 5 minutes.
3. In a bowl, mix together: ground chicken and beef, saute onion/garlic/carrots, parsley, dill, salt, and black pepper.
HOW TO MAKE PELMENI:
1. Cut off a chunk of dough, about the size of your fist, place it over a smooth, lightly floured surface and roll it out slightly wider than your mold. You can purchase a pelmeni mold on Amazon.com.
2. Flour the mold and place the rolled dough over the mold. Fill each pocked with about 1/2 teaspoon of the filling.
3. Roll another chunck of dough (same as in step 1) and place it over the mold. My friend Stephanie mastered the dough rolling pretty quickly :) I was very impressed with her skills. It took me about three tries to get the right texture.
4. After placing the second layer of dough, lightly press over the entire surface and push out the air bubbles and prevent the filling from squeezing out. Flour the rolling pin and role over the top of the second layer of dough until the pelmeni fall through each hole.
5. Turn the mold over and lightly push the pelmeni out with your finger. Some pelmeni may fall out on their own if you put enough flour on the mold before placing the first layer of dough.
6. Sprinkle a little flour over a plate or cutting board and arrange each pelmeni separately. Place it in the freezer. Once they are well frozen, you can place them in a bag and cook them later.
HOW TO COOK PELMENI:
1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add 1 teaspoon of salt.
2. Once the water starts to boil add fresh or frozen pelmeni but try to add only one or two at a time to prevent them from sticking together.
3. Turn down the heat to medium-low and stir. Let them cook until they all rise up.
4. Once they rise up, turn the heat to low and let them cook for additional 5 minutes.
5. Drain pelmeni and place them in a bowl. Toss pelmeni with butter and sprinkle with fresh dill (optional).
6. Serve them warm with sour cream or sour cream and soy sauce (my husband’s favorite), or with vinegar.