Getting the dough right is half the job. It should not tear when cooking, but not be too thick either. For the ideal result, sift the flour before kneading the dough so that it gets saturated with oxygen and contains only fine particles. And add a little vegetable oil.
Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes, give it a good stretch, and plop it back in the bowl. When done, roll it into a ball, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel, and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes. All this will help develop the gluten.
For juicy pelmeni, your best bet for the filling is pork breast. For a lower-fat option, choose ham or neck. Grind the meat through a large die to preserve the meat fibers. You can pre-cook the meat broth and pour a little straight onto the minced meat. For extra juiciness, raw onions or crushed ice can be added.
Usually, Siberian pelmeni are small — the size of a walnut. The dough/filling ratio is 1:1, but if it’s your first attempt at making them, it’s better to go easy on the filling.
Pelmeni love being frozen. So put the freshly made pelmeni in the freezer for at least 10 minutes, and then cook. There’s no need to defrost pelmeni beforehand, and never re-freeze them. The dough might crack and leak the filling during cooking.
Pelmeni appreciate being cooked in a large pan so they don’t feel crowded. Salt the water, bring to the boil, place the pelmeni in the pan, and stir to stop them sticking together.
The best companions for pelmeni are smetana, butter, and fresh herbs.
(for 80-100 pelmeni)
1. Create a mound of flour on the work surface. Make a hole in the top and add in the egg, sunflower oil, salt, and sugar. Gradually knead the dough, adding a little water until it stops sticking to your hands and the table. This will take at least 10 minutes.
2. Shape the dough into a ball, and leave it under plastic wrap in a warm place for 30 minutes.
3. Cut the beef, pork, and onions into medium-sized pieces. Run everything through a meat grinder with a large die. Add salt and ground black pepper to the minced meat, and mix everything till smooth. If it feels dry, add a little cold boiled water.
4. Roll the dough ball into a sausage shape and cut in half. Plastic-wrap one of the pieces (to be used for the second batch of pelmeni). Take the other, stretch by hand, then roll out on a flour-sprinkled surface with a rolling pin into a thin layer.
5. Using a glass, cut the dough into identical small circles.
6. Knead each circle with your fingers, place the filling in the middle, pinch the edges, and join together.
Repeat for each circle.
7. Lay out the pelmeni in a single layer on a flour-sprinkled cutting board or tray (you can sprinkle flour on top as well), and place in the freezer for 40-60 minutes. After that, cook or place in a bag for further freezing; they will no longer stick together.
8. Boil water in a large saucepan and salt slightly. Add bay leaf and black pepper. When the water begins to boil, pour in the pelmeni and stir so that they don’t stick to the bottom. When the pelmeni rise to the surface, cook for another 5-7 minutes.
9. Pelmeni can be eaten with or without broth. They are best served with butter, smetana, and/or fresh herbs.
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