I wanted to know why the potato was so sweet, so I asked.

The potato responded, “It’s just the way I yam.”

We’ve had a lot of mashed potatoes left over from Christmas and New Years and Family Parties. I didn’t know what I was going to do with them all.

In my house, I am in charge of leftovers: eating them, cooking with them, disposing of them. I hate throwing food away, so I have become very creative in finding interesting ways to eat the same thing over and over and over again.

Today’s recipe is a riff on something I ate with my flatmates in, you guessed it, New Zealand! My German flatmate, Carolin, made this Russian dish called Pelmeni. Pelmeni are these meat filled dumplings that you eat with sour cream. They are heavenly. But, they do not include potato, so, I thought I would adapt them in such a way as to make them include potato.

I know what you’re thinking…Molly, that’s called pierogi. I assure you, it is not.

For one thing, pierogi are Polish, what I am doing is Russian. And secondly, while both these tasty dumplings start out with the same kind of unleavened dough, and similar filling, after pierogi are boiled, they are then fried with butter and onions. The two are also shaped differently, which does make a difference.

When I did some background research, I found that the potato creation I was searching for, had it’s own name: Vareniki, or varenyky. Again, it is a Ukranian/Russian dish. The fun part of this dumpling is that it can also be adapted with a sweet filling (for another post!)

I ended up combining several recipes for what you will read below. The vareniki came out really tasty. I’ve definitely been in a dumpling mood lately. I think it’s all the raining cold weather. I just crave hearty food.

I didn’t have any sour cream to serve my vereniki with, so I made do with melted butter and parsley. They were rich and smooth. The filling was creamy and flavorful. They were the perfect way to use up the mashed potatoes, and a fun way to do so, too.

Vareniki
om nom nom

Ingredients

For the dough
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, whisked
1/4 c of butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup ice water
1-2 teaspoons salt

Method for the dough
           If you are using a mixer.

  1. Combine the flour, egg, butter, and salt in the bowl of your mixer. Make sure the dough hook is attached.
  2. Add the ice water (but not the ice).
  3. Turn on your mixer and mix until a smooth, silky dough forms.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside while you make your filling.

If you are mixing dough by hand.

  1. Combine the flour, egg, butter, and salt in a bowl. Using two forks, two knives, or a pastry cutter, cut the ingredients until the butter resembles coarse crumbles.
  2. Add the ice water (but not the ice).
  3. Mix the dough until it is smooth and silky.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

For the filling
Ingredients

2 c mashed potatoes
1 small onion, chopped
3/4 c sharp cheese
salt and pepper

Method

  1. Saute the onion in a little butter until translucent.
  2. Mix in the potatoes and cheese, whipping until smooth
  3. Season with salt and pepper.

Assembling the dumplings

  1. Flour your work surface.
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl and cut into 8 pieces.
  3. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough out until it is very thin.
  4. Using a round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out roughly 4 inch circles of dough.
    dough
  5. Fill each circle with about 1 to 1 1/2 tsp filling.
    filling
  6. Brush half of the circles edge with plain water.
  7. Fold the dough circle closed, sealing the edge along the side where you brushed the water.
  8. Repeat with the remaining circles. You will soon have a tiny potato filled dumpling army.
    tray o vareniki

Cooking the Vareniki

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Boil the dumplings for 5 minutes or so, until they float.
  3. Strain the excess water.
  4. Serve with sour cream, chopped chives, salt and pepper. If you’re feeling really wild, top with some crispy crumbled bacon.
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