Filled with a simple ground beef filling, these homemade kreplach, Jewish filled pasta dumplings, are terrific in soup or pan-fried as a small bite.
The Ashkenazi answer to Chinese wonton soup or Italian pan-fried ravioli, kreplach are a humble, warming, delicious, soul food. Making homemade kreplach takes some time and effort, but they are unfussy as noodles go, being a thicker pasta and requiring just a firm pinch to seal into triangles. And by the way? If you want a quick, semi-homemade version that's plenty good, you can use store-bought wonton wrappers rather than making your own pasta, which are easy to find kosher certified either in the refrigerated or frozen sections of most grocery stores. (Sometimes they're in the frozen kosher section, if your supermarket has one.)
Optional equipment for making kreplach
You don't need any special equipment to make kreplach; our foremothers clearly didn't have food processors or pasta machines (although pasta machines are lo-fi and used in many traditional cuisines, so possibly?). That being said, it certainly makes it easier to make kreplach from scratch if you have a food processor for mixing the pasta dough and a pasta machine or attachment to roll out the dough (I use the Kitchenaid pasta sheet roller attachment;I keep mine parve, because, you know, a person needs to be able to make homemade pasta for either meat or dairy predilections). If you don't have a pasta machine, you can just use an ordinary rolling pin to roll out the pasta as thin as you can get it, which will be thicker than the machine. You'll end up with a number of kreplach on the lower end of the spectrum you see in the recipe (about 12) but they'll be great. Either way, if you have one, this is the place to use a hand-held pastry wheel. Again, not necessary, as you can use any knife, but easier.
For the record, I have made them both ways and both ways—rolling out by hand and using the pasta attachment—and either way, they disappear fast.
Making the dough for kreplach
The dough for kreplach is similar to Italian pasta dough, but uses whole eggs rather than just yolks and is a bit drier, though about the same firmness. You can mix it by hand in a mixing bowl (or be really hardcore and mix it directly on your countertop), but my favorite way, if you have one, is to use a food processor. The dough will still be a touch crumbly but should readily stick together when you pat it. I usually use slightly less than the ¼ cup of cold water in the recipe. You'll add the water to the dough slowly, using only as much as you need to bring the dough together. Dump it out onto cling wrap, pat it together, and set it aside to rest while you make your filling. We'll get to rolling it out and shaping it in a bit.
Making the beef filling
To fill a batch of these kreplach, you need about ½ lb. / 250g of ground beef. Since a lot of recipes for meat-stuffed things use this amount, I often split one 1 lb / 500g package in two before freezing it so that I can easily defrost this amount. If you want to use a whole package, simply double the filling recipe. You can serve the "unstuffed" kreplach filling over rice, or your favorite grain, for an easy meal.
Undoubtedly the trickiest and most time-consuming part of homemade kreplach is the shaping. Begin by dividing your dough into two equal parts. Roll them out one at a time. If you're using a pasta machine/attachment, you only need to roll them thin enough to fit through the widest setting (usually number 1). If you're rolling by hand, keep on rolling, stretching occasionally by hand, until you've got a long, thin rectangle.
If using a pasta machine, I put mine through three times on 1 (the widest setting), twice on 3, then once on 5 (medium). This is not as thin as Italian or Chinese pasta, but I think it's the perfect thickness for kreplach. Here too you should end up with a long rectangular piece of dough.
Lay out your dough on your work surface—it'll be quite dry and shouldn't require any flouring—and trim it into large squares, about 3" / 8 cm. (You don't have to be exact; these are grandma food, in the best way.) Save the scraps to re-roll later. You should get about 6 squares for machine-rolled dough or about 3-4 for hand-rolled.
Place a tablespoon of filling at the center of each square and fold over into a triangle shape. Using your fingertips, press the edges of the dough together to seal.
Repeat with the second half of the dough, adding any scraps to your scrap pile. On the last go, you'll roll out your scraps. You should get about 18-20 kreplach from machine-rolled dough or about 12 from hand-rolled dough.
Cooking and serving homemade kreplach
After the kreplach are all shaped, you still need to cook them. (The filling is cooked through, so you're only cooking the dough.) Probably the most common way of serving kreplach is in chicken soup. You can boil them directly in the soup or in a separate pot of boiling water, just like you would ravioli. If you want to serve kreplach on their own, you can then pan fry them in a small amount of oil over medium heat until crisped, just 2-3 minutes per side. Of course, you can feel free to throw in some minced onion to the pan to brown first, or maybe some fresh chopped winter herbs.
Looking for more Ashkenazi soul food?
- Traditional Sweet Cheese Blintzes - dairy
- Red Wine Braised Brisket - meat
- Classic, Crispy Potato Kugel - parve
- Traditional Carrot Tzimmes - parve
- Almond Mandelbrot - parve
Homemade Beef Kreplach (meat)
- Food processor (optional)
- Pasta machine or attachment (optional)
- Pastry wheel (optional)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 eggs - beaten
- ¼ cup cold water
- ½ lb ground beef - 250 g
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ medium to large onion - chopped
- 1 clove garlic - minced
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- salt and black pepper - to taste
Mix the kreplach dough:
- Place the flour and salt into a food processor work bowl and pulse to combine. Beat the eggs in a measuring cup and pour into the work bowl with the machine running. Alternatively, this can be done by hand in a mixing bowl.
- Measure the ¼ cup of cold water into the measuring cup. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the water until the dough just holds together. You may not need the entire amount.
- Empty out onto cling wrap and pat into a disc. Wrap and leave to rest while preparing the filling.
Make the filling:
- Heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is lightly browned and softened, about 5 minutes. Push the onion/garlic to the sides of the pan and add the ground beef, breaking up as it cooks, about 5 more minutes. When the beef is cooked through, add the paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir and set aside to cool slightly.
Shape the kreplach:
- Divide the dough into two equal parts. Working with one part at a time, roll out as thinly as possible. Alternatively, put through a pasta machine three times on the widest setting (1), then twice on 3, and once on 5 (medium).
- Place about a tablespoon of filling the center of each square. Fold over into a triangle shape, pressing the edges together firmly to seal.
- Repeat with the second half of the dough, again reserving the scraps. Then, knead the scraps, roll out, and cut into squares for use.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Working in batches, cook the kreplach for about 10-15 minutes, until tender. The kreplach can now be served in soup, or pan-fried in a small amount of oil for serving by themselves.