Did you know that the singular form of kreplach is krepl, but when will you ever eat just one?
Every year my mother makes over 160 kreplach using the recipe/technique that she learned from her mother, my Bubby who learned from her mother-in-law, my Savta, the woman I’m named for.
My first memory in the kitchen is making these kreplach with my mother when I was 5 years old. Every year, until I moved to Israel I would help my mother prepare the kreplach. We would devote a Sunday a few weeks before Rosh Hashana to preparing all of the kreplach that we will enjoy a few weeks later on Erev Yom Kippur. The kitchen becomes a kreplach production line. A very soft dough is made, it is then rolled out by hand, and then circles are cut out using a drinking glass. Each circle is filled with meat that has been cooked for a few hours until it is fall-apart tender (no ground beef here). The circles of dough are then folded around the flavorful meat and sealed with a fork. The kreplach are then boiled for a couple of minutes and placed on a towel to cool. When they are cooled down my father counts them, packages them, and freezes them they are then distributed to our family in the States and in Israel. My mother makes enough kreplach so that everyone in our extended family can continue the tradition of having them in their chicken soup before Yom Kippur (she also makes a few extra so that I can have some in my freezer all year).
This isn’t so much as a recipe as it is a technique as it is a very Bubby recipe - a little of this a pinch of that, but I hope you take the time and try making your own kreplach, maybe you will even start a tradition for your own family. This recipe makes about 160 kreplach, but you can of course cut the amounts and it won’t take you much time at all to prepare kreplach for your family to enjoy before Yom Kippur.
Just like this kreplach may we be able to see the hidden brachot in our lives and be sealed in the book of good life!
2 medium onions
2 medium carrots
2 lbs chuck steak fillet (according to the number chart that is a #2 in Israel) but you can use any meat that needs to cook low and slow until tender
Peel and dice the onions and carrots and place them into a large pot with the meat along with a good pinch of salt and pepper. There is no oil or water added as the meat releases its own fat and the vegetables release their own juices.
Cook on a very low flame for about 2-3 hours until the meat is fall-apart tender. While the meat cooks prepare the dough (recipe below). Allow the meat to cool slightly and then using a slotted spoon remove it from the pot along with the carrots and onions. Don’t discard the liquid that is in the pot, you will need this as you’re making the kreplach if you see the meat is drying out. Place the meat into a bowl along with the carrots and onions and using a meat chopper chop up the meat, this should take a few moments as the meat is very tender. If you don’t have a meat chopper this can be done on a cutting board with a knife. Set aside and start rolling out your dough (directions below).
My mother found a written dough recipe that is very similar to what my grandmother used to do so I can provide you with exact measurements for the dough.
This recipe comes from the Ratner’s cookbook - Ratner’s was an iconic dairy restaurant on the Lower East Side.
1/4 cup oil
4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper (my bubby’s addition)
2 cups lukewarm water
9 1/2 - 11 cups of flour
In a large bowl mix together the eggs, oil, salt, pepper, and water. Gradually add in the flour until a soft dough has formed. You might not need all of the flour so don’t dump it all in at once. Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic adding more flour if necessary. Brush the dough with oil to prevent it from drying out and set aside for 1 hour.
My mother likes to cut the dough into a few pieces and wrap it in plastic wrap and that way the dough doesn’t dry out while the other pieces are being rolled out. You can also make the dough in advance and keep it in the fridge for 2 days just let the dough sit on the counter for 15 minutes before rolling out.
Flour your work surface and take a piece of the dough and roll it out to 1/8 inch thickness. Before cutting out the circles make sure the underside of the dough is not stuck to the board. Using a drinking glass, cut circles out of the dough. Place a teaspoon of meat in the center of the circle and then fold in half pressing around the meat to release any air bubbles. Use a fork to ensure that the edges are sealed well. Gather the scraps of dough and roll it out again until all the dough and filling are used.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil add a good pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil (that’s what my Bubby did). Carefully place the kreplach in the boiling water and cook for a couple of minutes until they float to the top. If you are making the full recipe you can make about 20 kreplach at a time and while the first batch boils roll out another piece of dough. Remove the kreplach from the water with a slotted spoon and place the kreplach in a colander. Gently rinse with cold water and then place on a kitchen towel to cool and dry. Once the kreplach are completely cool they can be frozen in zip-top bags. On Erev Yom Kippur add the kreplach to your pot of chicken soup a few minutes before you are ready to serve as they don’t take long to defrost.
To understand the full process check out the kreplach highlight on Instagram. I was in NY this year when my mother made them so I got to record the whole process.