Thursday, April 14, 2011

Give the people what they want!

This morning I posted a recipe for matzo balls and I was asked about kreplach.  Although not traditional for this time of year.  I typically make kreplach for the Jewish new year and Purim, but also enjoy them anytime.

Kreplach was one of my grandmother's best dishes and I made kreplach with her more times than I can remember.  She never had a written recipe and she always said a recipe wouldn't help, you had to learn how to make them by making them with someone.  My fingers and hands just know what to do.  I have passed the recipe on before so I have managed over the years to create a recipe.  They are A LOT of work or actually scratch that, they aren't so much work and they don't take a lot of advanced technique  but they do take time and a lot of patience.  If you aren't a patient cook, then making kreplach from scratch isn't for you.  I then suggest that you either go to a Jewish deli and order it or weasel out an invite to my house for the Jewish new year (hint:  I am a pretty cheap date that way, so your degree of difficulty is not very great -- certainly easier than making kreplach).

As I mentioned Kreplach are not traditional for Passover as they contain flour which is a no-no but they are traditional during the Jewish new year.  Legend has it that in medieval times Jewish people often used to place their desire to be inscribed in the Book of Life (this is what you ask G-d for during Yom Kippur) in a small pouch around their neck.  Kreplach was supposed to represent these pouches.  It's triangular shape is supposed to represent the 3 Jewish patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) although I have seen round kreplach too and I am not sure what it represents - maybe frisbees?

If you want to make kreplach make sure you have time on your hands and don't have to rush off.

So, here you go, my Meme's recipe for Kreplach.  Try it out and let me know how you do!

Kreplach - recipe makes about 24 kreplach but can be a little bit more or less depending on how big you make them.

Ingredients - Dough

3 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs + 1 extra for binding
2-3 tablespoons cold water

Ingredients - Filling

1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion chopped very fine and
1 egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons of Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat).  See Matzo ball recipe for an easy to make it.  Alternatively you could use oil (anything but olive or nut oils)
Salt and pepper to taste
you also need either wax paper or baking paper

Take off any of your rings, watches and bracelets.  Kreplach is a messy business using your hands.  


Chop onion.
Put about 1/3 of the schmaltz in a saute pan and heat until melted, add onion and saute over medium heat  until just soft (about 2-3 minutes).  If the onion gets brown throw it out and start again.
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well bound enough to make small meatballs that will hold their shape. 
Cover bowl and put in fridge

Sift flour and put in a mixing bowl, add salt and make a well in the middle of the flour.
Add eggs into the well.
Wet your fingers with water and then work the flour and eggs into a dough and add water a tablespoon at a time.  Knead the dough until it is smooth (about 3-5 minutes will do).  
Roll the dough into a ball and place it back in your bowl and cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for a good half hour

You will spend about half that time cleaning your hands but then grab yourself a coffee and relax a little.  The real work is coming.  

Take your dough and divide it in half or even thirds.  The key to kreplach is paper thin dough, it is easier to get paper thinness if you only with a little at a time.  

Put dough on a well floured surface and roll it out until it is as thin as it can be without breaking.  Try it a couple of times.  It doesn't matter if it is not paper thin yet, you can roll out the rest of the way after you cut the dough.  But the thicker your dough the smaller you need to cut your squares.  

Once your dough is rolled cut it into squares, or you can use a small drinking glass to make rounds.  I have done both but generally favor triangles.  Squares should be about 2x2 (that's inches).  They can be whatever size you want, some people do like them bigger.  They do get bigger when you cook them.  What's important is that you cut them all the same size as that is more visually appealing in your soup.  To be honest what I use nowadays is one of Maya's square play doh cookie cutters.  It is the perfect size.  Once you have cut them out lay them out on your work surface on a single layer.  Continue rolling and cutting the rest of the dough (or you can roll/fill, roll/fill, roll/fill as you like.  

When you are ready to fill your kreplach take your meat mixture out of the fridge.  Take your last egg and beat it in small bowl and get out a food brush.

I also either on a clean work surface or using a baking sheet or casserole dish, line it with wax paper.

Take each square and if it is not paper thin, roll it lightly with your rolling pin to get it thin enough, again as thin as you can.  

Take about 1/4- 1/2 a teaspoon of meat and spoon it into the middle of your kreplach, making a little ball (it doesn't have to be a meatball but should be kind of round.  I kind of just pick the meat with my fingers and roll it between my thumb, index and middle fingers until it is slightly round and then plop it in the middle of the square.  

Fold the diagonal corners of the square to make a triangle and seat the edges.  Make sure the edges are completely closed. If it is not, the meat will seep out the side.  Once you are completely closed, then put the kreplach on the waxed paper and seal the edges it with a little of the egg.

Repeat this until you are done.  This part literally takes me 1.5 hours.  

You can freeze the kreplach at this point.  I wrap them in packages of about 8 each in a freezer container and line it with waxed paper to keep them from sticking.  If you do more than one layer, put waxed paper between and on the top layer between the lid and the kreplach.  You want those babies tucked in snug like a bug in a rug.  Thaw completely before cooking (overnight in fridge)  

If you are cooking, then just like with matzo balls do not cook them in the soup.  The soup will get all starchy and gross.  Cook them in boiling salted water.  Kreplach will expand when you cook them and they don't like to be crowded.  I use my pasta cooker with the lift out colander but if you don't have one, use whatever you use to boil pasta in but then you will have to fish out your kreplach with a slotted spoon as you cannot dump them in a colander.  

Bring the salted water to a boil.  When boiling add your kreplach and lower your heat to medium-high when the boil comes back.  You don't want it simmering, but you don't want it vigorously boiling either.  Cook the kreplach for about 15 minutes.  You definitely do not want al dente here.

When they are done cooking take them out and store them in a container, separating layers with waxed paper (they will stick even after they are cooked so take no chances).  Put them in your soup only when you are ready to heat up your soup and eat.  

Let me know if you make 'em and how it worked out for you.  Otherwise forget the work, buy me some chocolates and invite yourself over to my house!  


  1. you know, i made hamentaschen for the first time this year, and they were so much work. I like kreplach, but they look like more time in the kitchen than i am willing to give. (and i'd be the only one eating it.)

  2. They are an awful lot of work, that is true and the only reason I do it is because I feel connected to my grandmother and all the wonderful times I had with her when she made them for us.

    If you want to "cheat" You can go to the Asian grocery store and buy won ton wrappers, cuts 80% of the time, has a more sure result and does the trick.

    I've never made hametaschen, we always bought them and I am not a great baker, but good for you for doing it!

  3. Dana,
    This is the same process we Italians use to make ravioli. It was a family project and brings wonderful memories of my mom's kitchen and time spent together.
    Thank you for the recipe. I love kreplach in soup and will definitely try it.