Kreplach

Challah may have been my first introduction to Jewish food, but that was  an introduction of my own making.  Now kreplach, that was something my husband invited me to do with him.  I recognized even at the time what a mark of favor that was!

You see, this recipe is one of those treasured family creations.  It is the staple at every holiday dinner and it is just assumed that a big batch will be a key part of the meal.

Sure, challah and chicken soup are more well known…but this recipe is a family heirloom.  My husband’s grandmother taught him how to make it, and she was the only one the family trusted with the job.  You can imagine how he felt the year that HE was nominated to make the whole batch.  He enlisted my help and we struggled to make them just right, because we really wanted her approval.  After all, this was her recipe AND the first time I was going to meet her!

I consider myself very lucky to have been co-chef and presenter that year.  Not long after I got a chance to meet her, she passed away, and I feel like with the kreplach I have at least a thin tenuous connection to her and the family legacy.

But, please don’t think that kreplach is a solemn food!  I’m not sure how anything that is fried, salty and this delicious could ever be eaten with a straight face.  Oh, as any good family recipe does, it definitely brings up stories and family memories, but they are more likely to be nearly-choke funny then sad!  In fact, I think the only way to eat kreplach is as close to the stove as possible, so you can get them hot off the pan, and with a big group of people you care about!

**Just so you know how dedicated I am to giving all of the best recipes I can find, I’m going to let you in on a secret.  Before I was allowed to post this, I had to make sure that all of the family was ok with me putting it on the internet.  That was scary, because it meant I had to tell them that I was writing this blog at all!  Thankfully for all of you, this blog met their approval so you can get in on this!**

Kreplach

With special thanks, and in loving memory, of Grandma

Ingredients

Dough
2.5lbs of flour(that is half of a standard bag of flour, it is absolutely ok to estimate if you don’t have a scale)
2 eggs
1 cup of cold water
More water as needed

Filling
(I am giving you the recipe for the traditional filling, but you are only limited by your creativity!  We have also made a very successful Asian-inspired one that we served with peanut sauce)

1 1/2 onions
1 teaspoon salt
1 lb ground chicken

Other
Oil for frying
Salt for seasoning

Equipment
2 large bowls
Rolling pin
Pizza cutter (a knife will also work just fine)
Large pot for boiling water
Splatter guard (Not required, but very nice to have.  My sister-in-law has a special frying shirt that she uses!)

1. First, grate the 1.5 onions (sorry to leave you 1/2 an onion!).  Add in the 1 teaspoon of salt and the 1 lb of ground chicken and mix it well.  Cover and stash this in the fridge until a little later.

2. Mix the two eggs into a bowl with 1 cup of cold water.  Add the 2.5 lbs of flour and mix together.  You will want to add water slowly until the dough holds together and doesn’t crumble in your hands.  It will be about 1/2  – 3/4 cup of additional water, but like we learned with the challah you just have to go with what feels right!

3. Divide the dough in half and stash one part under a damp paper towel.  Knead the other half for a few minutes, just to make sure that it has a good consistency and is easy to roll out.

4.  At this point, you will want to start a pot of water boiling!  Whatever size pot you have is fine, it will just determine how many can be boiled at once.

5.  Roll out the freshly kneaded dough as thin as you possibly can using a rolling pin.  This will leave you with a huge slab of dough that is about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

**This year I used my brand-new pasta roller to help me flatten out the dough.  I was a little nervous that it would be considered cheating, but it was so much easier!  If you happen to have one, I give you permission to use it!  Only take the dough down to about 3 or 4 though or it will be too thin.***

6. Using your pizza cutter, cut lines in the dough that are about 2 1/4 inches apart.  Repeat going the other direction so that you form large diamonds in the dough.

7. Take the chicken and onion mixture out of the fridge.  On each one of the diamonds, drop about a teaspoon of filling right in the middle.  I know, it doesn’t seem like a whole lot but you need room to pinch them closed and for some expansion to happen when cooking!

8. Now, fold the diamond in half to make a triangle and use your fingers to pinch all the way around the edges.  This is the most critical step!  If you rush and don’t pinch it closed really well, you will have exploding kreplach in your boiling water…not a good thing.

9. Once you’ve filled all of the kreplach, repeat the knead-roll-cut-fill steps with the other half of the dough.

10. Drop a few kreplach into your pot of boiling water.  You don’t want them to be too crowded so make sure they have enough room to float to the top in one layer.  Right after you drop them in, give the water a good stir to make sure they don’t stick.

11.  Boil for about 5-7 minutes.  You will know when they are done because they will all float to the top.  Handy huh?

12. Rinse the kreplach under cool water and let them dry a little.  I like to transfer them to a baking rack so they have a chance to drip off a little bit.

13.  At this point the kreplach can be frozen and cooked up later.  We put them in a ziploc bag and just stash them in the freezer until we need them.

14. If, like us, you need to fry up at least a COUPLE right away then start heating about 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. This is the when the splatter guard comes into play!  These little guys will spray hot oil, especially if they’ve been frozen, so make sure you are protected.

15. Fry a panful of kreplach until they are brown, making sure to flip them over at least once to crisp up both sides.  It will only take a few minutes if they are fresh but a little longer if they’ve been frozen.

16.  When you take them out of the pan, sprinkle with a little bit of salt.  Now, resist the urge to bite in immediately.  You want to give the steam just a little time to cool down.  You couldn’t wait could you?  Well, you probably agree that they are so good it was worth it!

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