A kreplach recipe that's worth the work
I made my first batch of kreplach, noodle dough containing ground meat usually found in chicken soup, in 1972, with my very Greek friend Mary Mastrogeannes, when I was fourteen. My mother had cautioned me that kreplach were a lot of work, but when you are fourteen, your mother knows nothing. After I told her we were going to cook them anyway, she shook her head and retreated to the bedroom, muttering darkly “they are a lot of work.”
We were going to make these kreplach and bring them to my father, who was in the hospital for tests. I had bought a tiny little cute Jewish cookbook in a local Asian gift shop in the Alexander’s Shopping center mall. I found it in a rack of small sized books on Zen philosophy, the poetry of Omar Khayyam, the loveliness of nature, and other hippie material. Kreplach was something I had eaten in restaurants, and enjoyed, very much. My mother had never made it, but she was not much of a cook, so I never thought it was unusual she hadn’t. Two hours and one floury kitchen later, I had figured something out. Mother was right.
Kreplach are a huge pain to make. And it’s not just making and rolling the dough. The traditional filling is made with beef that you braise endlessly, onions that have to be cooked for almost as long, liver (liver?!), egg, and challah crumbs. Also garlic, salt and pepper, all of which have to be cooked seemingly forever and combined just so.
My first batch of Kreplach was my last for twelve years, until I came to California and my husband’s mother served kreplach in chicken soup regularly at Rosh Hashanah and at the “farewell to food” pre-Yom Kippur dinner. Her husband and children appreciated these kreplach immensely, hanging around the kitchen and snitching a few before they were placed into the chicken soup. When I asked her about it, she said that in her younger days, when her children were home, she had made kreplach all the time. It was one of the few things she froze, and sometimes she would make them and serve them with tomato sauce. Something in the tone of her voice made me think she was inviting me to join the kreplach-making sisterhood and I took up the rolling pin again, experimenting with fillings until I found recipes that would satisfy my husband and older son, who don’t like liver, and my brother-in-law, who doesn’t eat fat.
I discovered a surprising substitute that gave depth of flavor to a much simpler filling recipe, kept me away from raw liver, and lowered the fat content of the kreplach filling.
Preeva’s Kreplach Filling
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 lb extra-lean ground beef
½ cup of Guiness Extra Stout
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1 egg or equivalent egg substitute
Saute the onion and garlic. Remove and set aside. Brown the ground beef, then add Guiness and add the onions and garlic you just set aside. Cook until the Guiness is almost all evaporated, add salt and pepper, and put mixture into food processor. Process into a fine paste, add breadcrumbs, salt and pepper to taste, and an egg. Chill, for easier handling.
(from California Kosher, 1991 edition)
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold water
In a food processor bowl, put flour, eggs and salt. Process while slowly adding water until a ball is formed. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. Using a pasta machine, roll out as for thin noodle dough, or roll out by hand to 1/8 inch thickness.
To Make Kreplach:
Cut dough into approximately 2-inch squares. Place 1 rounded teaspoon filling on each. Fold into triangle and pinch together to seal edges. Boil large pot of water with 1 tablespoon salt. Add 10-12 kreplach at a time. Boil 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the dough. Repeat until all are done, adding water to the pot as needed. To serve, cook 1 minute in hot chicken soup until heated through or fry in shortening to serve as side dish. Yields 30-50 kreplach, depending on size. Note, also freezes well.