8 August 2013

Sourdough Pelmeni (Russian Meat Dumplings)

This is a very traditional Russian recipe and does require time to prepare, but once ready it is a very nutritional, healthy, fast and easy to prepare meal. Please read through to make sure you set aside enough time to prepare this recipe.


For the dough

100 g white active sourdough starter
100 g filtered water
3 organic free range eggs
1 tsp sea salt
500 g organic white all purpose flour

For the meat filling

350 g organic pastured pork mince
350 g organic pastured beef mince (or wild venison mince if available)
50 g organic pastured chicken liver
50 g organic pastured lard or beef tallow or butter
1 small organic onion
2 medium cloves of organic garlic
salt and pepper to taste


mixing bowl
cling film
rolling pin
Russian pelmeni maker (they sell it on ebay)


Mix all the ingredients for the dough and knead it very well for around 10 minutes. The dough should be quite stiff. Place the dough in a slightly floured bowl and cover with cling film. Leave the dough at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight.

After 8 hours or in the morning prepare the meat filling by blending together all the liver, fat, onion, garlic and spices. Add this mixture into the pork and beef (venison) mince and mix it thoroughly with your hands if possible, beat it by lifting the meat mixture and slamming it back in the mixing bowl, do that for at least 5 minutes. The fat and liver in the mixture makes the filling soft and fluffy, and the beating makes it bind together better. After you done, cover the bowl with the meat with cling film and let it 'rest' for 10 minutes.

In the meantime take the dough, nip off a small fist-size ball and roll it out very thinly on a lightly floured surface, leave the rest of the dough covered with cling film. Take the pelmeni maker and sprinkle it with some flour so the dough doesn't stick to it,

place the rolled out dough on top of the pelmeni maker.

Now you need to fill every opening with the meat mixture that you prepared earlier. Take two tea spoons and scoop the meat with one, there should be about 1/2 of the tsp of meat or slightly more, do not be tempted to take more meat as the finished product might burst, manipulating the piece of meat with two tea spoons scoop it out into first opening. Proceed filling in every opening of the pelmeni maker.

Do it as evenly as you can, some balls of meat will be bigger some smaller, that is ok.
Next cut another fist-size ball from the dough, roll it out thinly and place it over the meat.

Take the rolling pin and very gently bash on the top layer of dough so that the meat balls sink inside and then roll it on top to separate the pelmeni.

Remove the extra dough from around,

 pick up the pelmeni maker by the edge, turn it upside down and bash its side on the table so that the pelmeni fall out

be careful not to squash already fallen out pelmeni. Now for easier storage you need to freeze them. The best way to do it is by placing ready pelmeni on the slightly floured flat surface, I use plastic leads,

cover them with some cling film and transfer to the fridge for a few hours or until the pelmeni are frozen hard, then you can transfer them all into a large plastic zip bag and place into the freezer for the storage.

Keep doing the same using all the dough and all the meat.

At the very end when you have a small mount of both meat and dough I would advise you to finish off without the pelmeni maker. Here is how. Roll out the remaining dough thinly, take a narrow glass about 6-7cm in diameter and use it to cut the circle of dough,

then place the same ball of meat as above in the middle of the circle, take the circle in your hand bring the edges of the dough together to form a semi-circle and pinch the edges with your fingers, then bring the opposite ends together and form a round pelmen by pinching the ends together firmly.

You can actually make the whole batch like that manually if you decide to be really traditional about it.

In case you have some leftovers of meat and no more dough you can form meat balls and freeze them. If you have leftovers of dough you can roll it out very thinly, cut out long strips with a pizza cutter and you have tagliatelle pasta.

As soon as you make the pelmeni you can cook them straight away. You need to boil some water in a pot, adding 2-3 peppercorns, 1 bay leaf and some sea salt.

When the water is boiling throw in the amount of pelmeni you intend to eat, do not cover with the lid. Fresh pelmeni need 1-2 minutes to cook in the boiling water, they will be floating on the surface. When ready fish the pelmeni out with a skimmer, place them in a bowl and eat straight away. But if you really want to be Russian about it, add some sour cream (you can make your own, here is the recipe), a tea spoon of horseradish sauce and some of the liquid, mix everything together and eat as a soup.

The frozen pelmeni can be eated the same way, you do not need to thaw them, just boil the water and put the frozen pelmeni straight in, they will take 2-3 minutes in the boiling water to be cooked.

Pelmeni keep in the freezer for a few months and are really tasty and nourishing alternative to fast food or whenever you have no time for cooking.