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Bonnie Morales' Lamb Pelmeni with Adjika Butter

Bonnie Morales' Lamb Pelmeni with Adjika Butter

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Having immigrated with her family to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union, chef Bonnie Morales of Portland's Kachka serves up a childhood favorite, and one of the earliest frozen foods — the Russian Pelmeni — by switching out the traditional meats with lamb and tossing it in an Adjika Butter topped with smetana, an Eastern European sour cream, and fresh herbs.

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Transcript

- [Bonnie] The lamb pelmeni really celebrate all different cultures that came out of the former Soviet Union. Pelmeni typically are made with pork, beef, and veal. That's delicious, and we love those! But this was a fun little riff, we're not really messing with the idea at all. But just turning the ingredients on their head a little bit. I am Bonnie Morales, chef-owner of Kachka Restaurant in Portland, Oregon. My parents immigrated from the former Soviet Union in 1980, and the food we do here is based on the things I grew up eating. A lot of the food that we make here focuses on preservation. Salting, curing, pickling. And we do a lot of that in-house, which is really fun. Things like pelmeni, that we're making today, are one of the original frozen foods. So interesting, the origins coming from Siberia, people would get together with their family and... shake them by hand, and throw each one into the snow as they go. Freezing them through the winter, which, obviously, in Siberia is never-ending. They're also insanely delicious, and it's just another example of preserving that people don't always think about. The lamb pelmeni are really a mash-up of the ingredients in dishes from my childhood with the techniques that I like to use today. The lamb pelmeni really reflects what we do at Kachka, because they're super traditional and really done the way that they've always been done, but with just little subtle changes. First thing we do is finely grate an onion... And then we add the onion, ice water, and salt, as well as the lamb, into a mixer. You're gonna mix it with a paddle until it starts to come together. You're looking to emulsify it so that you end up with a really juicy filling. We're gonna put it in a piping bag so that we can pipe out the filling into our pelmeni molds later. Once your piping bag's filled, just throw it in the fridge and let it get cold and firm up. The dumpling dough is really simple and straightforward, and we use AP flour, which is not something you would normally see in a pasta dough, but this actually makes a much more supple dumpling. With the stand mixer, set with the dough hook, you're gonna add flour, salt, an egg, and then slowly stream in the water. Once you have all the ingredients in and the dough hook on, you're gonna mix at a medium speed for about 10 minutes. You're looking for the dough to really come together over that time, and it becomes shiny, and taut, and doesn't have any sort of ridges or roughness to it anymore. Once the dough is done, wrap it up in plastic wrap and let it rest. You're looking for the glutens to relax and for the dough to be soft enough that when you press down, it doesn't spring back automatically. That way you know that your dough is workable now. Adjika is a Georgian spicy sauce, or paste, depending on the consistency. Start by getting a pan hot to toast spices. Throw in the dill, coriander, fenugreek, and cumin, and let them go until they start to become aromatic or hot to the touch, if you're okay with getting your hand in the pan. Once they're nice and toasty and the oils are starting to release, transfer to a spice grinder and grind til they're a nice, fine powder, so that the finished adjika isn't chewy from the seeds. Once the spices are nice and ground, throw them into the food processor and add the rest of the ingredients to make the adjika, starting with walnuts, parsley, cilantro. Next, you add the tomato paste and pepper paste. The pepper paste is really an essential ingredient to adjika, 'cause that's really what it's always based off. Then you'll add the final ingredients. Lemon juice, olive oil, turmeric, salt, and garlic. Then you just blend everything together til it's a nice, smooth consistency. You might need to turn it off and scrape down the sides a couple of times. Once everything is blended together, now you have adjika, and you can use that as its own condiment, but here, we're going to go ahead and turn it into a compound butter by adding some softened butter to the mix, as well. We mix the butter in until it's all incorporated. You want it to be nice and smooth, and sort of a soft orange color. You don't want it to mix for too long, 'cause your butter can get warm and break. Once the adjika butter is finished, scrape it out into a bowl. If you're making dumplings right away, you might wanna leave it at a room temperature, but if you're doing it later, put it away in the fridge, and then let it temper when you're ready. We used a pelmeni tin mold to make our pelmeni, which is super classic. You can make them by hand, but I think that making them this way yields the best dumpling. First thing I'm gonna do is make sure to flour the table and the mold really generously. We use a two pass dough sheeter for rolling out our dough, makes it much more consistent... Especially when you're making thousands of dumplings. Place your rolled out dough on top of the pelmeni tin mold, and then, either with a roller or with your hands, lightly impress, so that the shape of the mold comes through a little bit, so you know where you're going. We're gonna add the filling to the dumplings using a pastry bag and a spoon. This is just an efficient way to do it. You can always just use two spoons, or your hands, or whatever you feel comfortable with. You're looking to put a raspberry-sized amount of the filling in each of the divots. Once you have all the 37 spots filled, then you're gonna get another piece of dough going and roll it out, and place it on top. After your second sheet's on top, grab your rolling pin and roll it out. That action presses down on the hexagon shape underneath, essentially cutting the dough all the way through. Next, the moment of truth, we flip out the dumplings onto a table or a tray, and then transfer them into the freezer on a parchment-lined sheet tray. We freeze the dumplings for a number of reasons. They cook much more evenly that way. The cooked dumpling is more attractive-looking, and it makes it something that you can do in large quantity and have for later. Once the dumplings are frozen through, we portion them out and then throw them in the pasta cooker to boil them. While they're boiling, we're gonna prepare the sauce. In a bowl, combine the adjika butter, a splash of distilled white vinegar, and some salt. Once the dumplings are ready, I give them a shake and throw them into the bowl with awaiting ingredients. You're gonna wanna quickly mix together everything. That action actually creates sauce; you're taking the water that's still clinging to the outside of the dumplings and emulsifying it with the butter, and the vinegar, and the salt. Once each pelmeni is evenly coated, we're gonna move them into a pretty bowl and garnish with some smetana. Smetana is the Russian word for sour cream. We culture ours here using specific kinds of Eastern European cultures... That gives it a really nice richness and tang. We finished it off with fresh cilantro and mint. There you have it! Our lamb pelmeni with adjika butter. When you bite into the lamb pelmeni, you get the really juicy, meaty filling with the really supple, slippery dough around it, and then all of it is enrobed in this really... Almost exotic butter sauce. There's the cilantro and the mint that adds a nice freshness. And then, the creaminess of the smetana. I love learning more about my culture, and I'm always looking to explore more and always learning. I'm building on what I've already learned, and there's just so much stuff to it. The lamb pelmeni really embodies everything that I love about Russian food, and everything that I loved about the food I ate in my childhood.

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