Winter weather brings back Russian memories of hours spent making Pelmeni tucked into a vinegary red wine sauce or a creamy onion sauce. Homemade Pelmeni is a tedious endeavor – kneading pastry, stirring together a meaty filling, flour on the workbench, hands shaping dough, a dollop of filling tucked into pastry pouches. But with Pushkin’s The Bronze Horseman filling the background and white pillowy snow on the ground, it’s the perfect treat for a lazy weekend.
Tedious doesn’t have quite the same ring to it when you’re living on the Russian islands of St. Petersburg. With nine months of winter, you technically have nothing but time on your hands! What a lasting impression Russia makes. Your first moments are spent noticing dreary days meeting grumpy spirits. Grimy snow frozen in sheets of ice. Your boots falling apart, slowly worn through by the salt on the sidewalks. The blood in your cheeks chills to the bone, frozen words lost mid sentence.
But then you lift your eyes to the golden dome of St. Isaac’s, the bronze horseman kicking up its heels in the background. The teal plaster of the Hermitage announcing the Neva’s rise, the fires burning in the Rostralnie Columns. A few more steps and you’re lost to the golden walls of the Admiralty and General Headquarters. St. Petersburg really is the Venice of the North – with more than 42 islands, the best way to see them all is still via the river. A city built for poetry with Pushkin’s sonnets whistling on the wind and Chizhik Pizhik greeting you from the foot of the Fontanka.
But on an icy day in Oklahoma, it is the smoke rising in in a colorless sky that takes me right back to Russian shores. In the meantime, I’ll tide myself over with a steaming batch of homemade pelmeni. Tchuss!
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 yellow onion, minced
- 5 oz ground beef
- 3 oz ground pork
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh dill, minced
- Scramble the egg, oil and water together until well combined. Gently stir in the flour and salt until the dough forms a ball. Lightly dust a worksurface with flour and knead the dough until tacky and elastic (1-2 minutes). Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 15-20 minutes or until ready to use.
- Mix the ground beef, ground pork, minced onion, salt, pepper and dill together in a small mixing bowl until well combined.
- Generously flour a workbench. Divide the dough in half and working in batches, roll the dough into a thin sheet of pastry (chill the remaining half until ready to use).
- Flour a 1½" biscuit cutter and cut as many dumplings out as the dough will allow. Reshaping the scraps as you go to yield approximately 15 pelmeni per sheet of pastry.
- For each dumpling, roll out the round to stretch the edges. Using a teaspoon, measure a small round of filling and place at the center of each dumpling. Wrap the dough around the filling and pinch the ends together, gently tucking the edges at the center to form a half moon shape. Place on a floured baking sheet for freezing later. Continue with the remaining dumplings until filling and pastry are exhausted.
- Once the baking sheet is full, place in the freezer to chill for at least 4 hours. Transfer the frozen dumplings to a sealed plastic bag and keep frozen until required.
- Recipe yields approximately 30 dumplings.