Thursday, September 4, 2014

Chicken and Apple Kreplach (with short video to demonstrate assembly)








Kreplach are triangle shaped dumplings that are filled with meat, cheese or vegetable filling. Most commonly known as an accompaniment to chicken soup they are commonly eaten during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  More information can be found on my Vegetable Kreplach post. 

I find that holiday menus often become static - big changes are often met with a sigh and a bit of disappointment. Everyone has a different favorite holiday food, which leaves us very little wiggle room about changing menu items or trying a new recipe. Brisket is a prime example of how little wiggle room we have; my husband, who is the brisket maker, now makes two different types because different family members cannot imagine Rosh Hashanah dinner without their favorite brisket. This year, with the addition of a new smoker he may be preparing three recipes. Sometimes I'd like to ditch the brisket altogether, but then think better of it. 

And this brings me back to kreplach, which are a must on the menu, but "must" be the kind that the kids expect: my grandmother's beef kreplach.  Last year I was able to slip in the alternative vegetarian dumpling to meet the needs of a dinner guest. This year that excuse doesn't exist, so making an "alternative" kreplach took some explaining last night when the kids came into the kitchen, saw the kreplach, took a sample (only the ugly ones!) and were surprised to find a sweet and savory kreplach made with chicken, dried apples, onions and herbs.  What was a surprise after the first bite and became very good after the second suddenly was a threat to the menu. This kreplach couldn't replace the traditional beef dumplings! Next thing I was accused of was planning to remove chicken soup from the menu.  I had to promise that these were the experimental alternatives, I would definitely make beef kreplach and yes, chicken soup as well. 

In our house therefore, any menu creativity is reduced to working around the edges, and making sure to never upset the basic food items. This recipe for chicken-apple kreplach is therefore a suggestion for those who have families that allow for more flexibility or as a second choice dumpling.  (Notice that I haven't even mentioned matzah balls, hard and softer, which are also a mandatory menu item in our family). 

Choreography:   Making kreplach is a project, and if you are hesitant about taking this on, make the filling and use ready-made won ton wrappers as a short cut. If you are making the dough, be sure you allow a 30- 60 minute rest so that the gluten is relaxed and you'll be able to roll it out.  I don't recommend making the dough too much ahead of time and chilling - this is an egg noodle dough and it will begin to dry out. I generally make the dough, cover it with plastic wrap and make the filling in one sitting, although you can also make the filling a day ahead, cover and keep chilled in the refrigerator.   Once the dough and filling are made and you are ready to start making the kreplach, fill a large stockpot with salted water and bring to a boil. Roll out the dough and begin stuffing the individual dumplings. Place on a flat plate that has been dusted with cornstarch to prevent sticking. Keplach are boiled, although in our family we bake the cooked dumplings to make them a bit crisp. 


Equipment: 
large stock pot 
measuring cups, spoons
mixing bowls and spoons
sharp knife and cutting board 

Ingredients:
For the dough - the listed ingredients will make enough dough for 1/2 lb of ground chicken. It easily doubles if you are using 1 lb of  ground chicken or meat. 
*7 oz (approximately 1 3/4c) all purpose flour 
*2 large eggs, mixed with enough water to make 1/2 cup of liquid 
* 1/2 tsp kosher salt (sea salt works as well, do not use table salt) 
*3 Tbsp neutral vegetable oil (don't waste expensive olive oil for this) 

For the filling- the listed ingredients can easily be doubled. 
*1/2 lb ground chicken (I use ground breast meat, this is a personal choice)
*1.5 oz chopped dried apples
*1 oz finely chopped onion  (about 1/2 of a medium onion)
*salt  (This is based on personal taste, don't taste the raw chicken, it's not safe to do so. I use kosher       chicken and do not add more than a pinch of salt.  You can always mix the filling, and cook a bit to taste it). 
*1/8 tsp or a bit more of black pepper 
*1.5 Tbsp minced herbs - I use parsley and sage, but you can use any herb mixture you like
*1 oz (scant 1/4c) matzah meal (breadcrumbs will work) 
* a small amount of cornstarch to dust a plate for assembled kreplach waiting to be cooked 

To cook-
A large stockpot, filled 3/4 of the way, with a bit of salt and about one Tbsp of oil 

Procedure:
Make the dough:
1. Measure the flour and salt into a mixing bowl, create a "well" (indentation) in the flour 
2. Crack the eggs into a measuring cup and add enough water to make 1/2 cup. Stir the mixture and add the oil. 
3.  Pour the liquid into the well and using a rubber scraper or large spoon mix the flour and liquids until the dough comes together.  This is not bread making, don't over-knead
4. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest while you mix the filling 





Make the filling:
1. Chop the apples, onions and herbs 
2. Mix all filling ingredients in a mixing bowl 





Assembly: 
1. Bring the water to a boil. Add a bit of salt and a Tbsp of oil. 
2. Take about 1/3 of the dough and form a short log. You will be rolling the dough along the length of the log - working with the gluten. The you'll roll to widen the strip, forming a rough rectangle. If the dough is difficult to roll out - let it rest for a few minutes.  
3. I like to use a glass to cut circles, and then pull the dumpling into a triangle shape.  You can cut squares that are about 1.5" x 15." Let the cut pieces rest for a few minutes, it will make it easier for you to stretch the dough around the filling. 
4. Place about 1 tsp of filling in the center of each piece, bring dough around the filling and pinch to seal.  If you have a hard time pinching the dough closed, moisten with water and pinch again.  If you find your fingers are sticky with dough or meat , wash your hands, it will make it easier to pinch the dumplings closed.  All scraps can be rolled together in your hand, placed back into the bowl, covered and allowed to rest before re-rolling. 
5. Place assembled kreplach on a plate that has been dusted with cornstarch.  Once you have approximately a dozen pieces, gently place in the boiling water. Be careful not to splash yourself, lower heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon, place on flat surface to cool. 
6. While one batch is cooking, repeat the process with the unused dough. 

There is a short video we made showing kreplach assembly. 






To store:
Spray the warm, drained kreplach with spray oil. You can store in a covered storage container for a day or two in the refrigerator.  For longer storage you must freeze them:  spray a sheet of aluminum foil with oil, lay out kreplach in a single layer, cover with foil and place in a zip lock bag, place in the freezer. Defrost before using. 

To serve: 
You can warm the cooked kreplach in hot soup; however, we bake them on a very lightly greased cookie sheet at 350 until they begin to turn a bit brown.