Cooking in Russia! Pelmeni

Assisting the ship's chef.
      Now I can actually claim that I’ve cooked in Russia! To be more truthful, I was on a pelmeni assembly line production. Barry and I celebrated our 44th wedding with a river cruise in Russia – it was a fabulous trip. As our ship was cruising from Moscow to St. Petersburg, we attended a cooking class.
     Chef André Frischmuth demonstrated the preparation of pelmeni -- the Russian equivalent of tortellini that originated in Siberia. Family members, with the aid of babushkas prepare large batches of these filled dumplings using an assembly line method. The pelmeni are then frozen (outside in the snow in early times); to finish simply drop in boiling water and cook until they rise to the top of the pot (in early times they were taken on journeys and cooked in water over an open flame).
Typically the little dumplings are filled with raw meats ground with onions and herbs. However sauerkraut and potatoes are other popular fillings. Sometimes they’re filled with fruit pastes, such as prune and one lady on board said she’s skipped the paste and simply inserted a prune in a round of dough.
     Although Chef André converted his recipe to standard U.S. measure, some of them are in ounces versus cups (actually a more accurate method of measurement) so I’ve done a rough conversion.

14 oz. all-purpose flour – converts to a little less than 2 cup (I oz. flour = 1 cup)
2 eggs
5 fl. oz. cold water (most measuring cups designed for liquids have oz. measurements in addition to cup measures)
1½ teaspoon salt
7 oz. finely ground beef
8 ¾ oz. finely ground pork (or a total of almost 1 lb. ground beef & pork)
1 onion
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons stock or water
Salt & pepper
Egg wash – an egg mixed with a little water for brushing edges
Salted water or broth for cooking pelmeni
Sour cream or butter for serving

Pelmini Dough
1)   Combine flour, eggs, water and salt; knead until dough is smooth. Cover and let dough rest 30 minutes for best results.

The chef mixes the dough . . . 
and now he rolls it until it is extremely thin.
2)   Transfer to a floured surface and roll until dough is really thin (max. 0.08”).
3)   Using an upside down glass or pastry cutter, cut out rounds (each 2” in diameter).

4)   Combine meat, onions, garlic and 3 Tblsp. stock or water; stir until smooth and season with salt and pepper.
5)   Brush the edges of each round with egg wash; place small portions of the filling onto the dough rounds;  fold in half  (to resemble a half moon) and press together, preferably with a fork. Turn up the sides of the half moon pelmeni, so that they have little ‘ears’ (similar to tortellini).
Brushing the rounds of dough with egg wash.
Assembly line production.
6)   Bring a large pot of salted water or broth to boil. Drop in the pelmini (a batch at a time); gently simmer – they are done when they rise to the top of the surface (they cook quickly.) 
Chef Andre´ folds over th pelmeni and then drops them in boiling broth,.

The pelmeni rise to the top of the pot when they are done.
7)   Serve with sour cream or melted butter.

Chef André rolls out pelmeni dough. Oh look he found a babushka on board to help!

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