Citizens, the world seems to revolve around dumplings! From across Asia, Europe and more, there are literally dozens of different varieties – this one is near and dear to my Jewish heart, however!
Kreplach (from Yiddish: קרעפּלעך) are small dumplings filled with ground meat, mashed potatoes or another filling, usually boiled and served in chicken soup, though they may also be served fried.
They are similar to Polish uszka, Russian pelmeni, Italian ravioli or tortellini, and Chinese wontons. The dough is traditionally made of flour, water and eggs, kneaded and rolled out thin.
In Ashkenazi (European) Jewish homes, kreplach are traditionally served on Rosh Hashanah, at the pre-fast meal before Yom Kippur, and on Hoshana Rabbah and Simchat Torah.
Kreplach are also eaten on Purim because the hidden nature of the kreplach interior mimics the “hidden” nature of the Purim miracle.
A variety with a sweet cheese filling is served as a starter or main dish in dairy meals, specifically on Shavuot where eating dairy is part of the holiday tradition. Fried kreplach are also a popular dish on Chanukah because they are fried in oil, which references the oil miracle of Chanukah.
Stuffed pasta may have migrated from Venice to the Ashkenazi Jews in Germany during the 14th century.
One explanation for the name is that it stands for the initials of three festivals: K for Kippur, R for Rabba, and P for Purim, which together form the word Krep. The “lach” comes from the Yiddish, meaning “little”.
Another suggestion is that the word comes from the German word, Krepp, meaning crêpe. Some say that God hid when performing the miracle of saving the Jews in the same way that the filling is hidden in the dough.
Citizens, every Jew believes their grandmother of blessed memory made the “best” version of kreplach. My version will hopefully surpass even these sanctified taste memories through its rich and delicious filling of ground brisket, liver, vegetables and onions sautéed in chicken fat!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
1 ¾ pounds boneless chuck or brisket
2 – 3 cooked chicken livers or 1 turkey liver
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small bunch of dill
4 large onions, 3 minced fine and one cut into slices
1 bottle dry red wine
About ½ cup (possibly more) of melted chicken fat, aka schmaltz (Canola oil is a barely acceptable substitute)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling: Place the meat, dill, carrots, celery and the sliced onion in a large Dutch oven. Add the bottle of red wine and cook in the oven, covered, until the meat is fork tender, about 1 ½ hours. Remove the meat from the oven and let it cool.
Fry the liver(s) in a pan with some oil until cooked through.
In the same pan you cooked the liver(s), heat the schmaltz and add the onion. Fry until the onions are deep golden brown.
Chop the cooled meat and liver into large pieces that will fit into the spout of a meat grinder, reserve the brisket juices from the pan.
Using the meat grinder, alternate grinding the meat and cooked vegetables from the pot with the caramelized onion mixture (with the fat/oil) until it has all been ground together. Taste the mixture, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and some of the reserved meat and wine juices from the brisket.
Measure out the flour onto the work surface. Make a well and put in the eggs and salt. Mix by working the flour into the eggs with your fingers.
Knead the dough, adding flour until it feels like your earlobe. This is the perfect texture for kreplach noodle dough.
Cover the dough, to keep it from drying, and let it rest for a half hour.
Now, I have never, ever made the right amount of dough for the amount of filling I’ve prepared. The solution is either to make more dough or freeze the filling for another time.
Put up a large pot of slightly salted water to boil.
So, after the dough has rested, take a portion and roll it out on a floured board. It should be rolled as thinly as possible. The dough is very elastic and requires a bit of work, but you should work at it until it is very thin; almost translucent. (The dough still in reserve should continue to be kept covered.)
With a *very* sharp knife, cut the dough into rectangles of about 2 to 2 ½ inches.
Put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each rectangle. For each, fold the rectangle into a triangle, over the filling. Seal the edges *tightly*. (If they open during cooking, all the filling will be lost into the water.) If need be, slightly moisten your fingers with water and crimp the edges well.
Take the two points of the triangle at the sides, pull them behind the folded-up edge, and pinch them together to form a little circle of dough. Drop in the boiling water and cook for 15-20 minutes. (Prepare the next batch while this one is cooking.)
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain thoroughly before storing or dropping into soup.