Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Slovenian Dinner Week 15: Žlikrofi, My Way



Menu
Žlikrofi (Meat-filled Dumplings) in Soup
Broccoli-Radish Salad


For the full story behind this dish, take a look at my previous post.

I  developed this recipe after considering many sources: Memories of a childhood favorite that my mother called wonton dumplings.   Several versions of zlikrofi, plus a meat pita recipe, that I found in my trio of vintage Slovenian American cookbooks.   Contemporary Slovenian sources I discovered online.  And a touch of my father-in-law's family recipe for kreplach, a traditional Jewish dish.

So is this a fusion dish?  Not exactly.  The flavors certainly aren't Chinese.  And meat kreplach would never include pork or sour cream! The fact is, many cultures have similar versions of meat-filled boiled dumplings.

I think this is Slovenian žlikrofi, the way my mother used to make it, even though she never used that name around us.

As for what my mother thinks, read on!



Filling:

1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 T. fresh parsley, chopped
1 T. oil
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 t. paprika
1 egg, beaten
3 T. sour cream
3 T. matzo meal (or bread crumbs)

Dough:

1 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 egg
water as needed



Preparation:

First, make the noodle dough in the usual way.  Mix, knead till smooth.  Form into a ball, cover and let rest for a half hour.  For more detailed instructions, see my recipe for egg noodles.

Now, the filling:  Brown the onion, garlic, and parsley in oil.  Add the ground meats and seasonings and cook until no longer pink.  As the mixture cooks, chop with a spatula to prevent lumps from forming.  Remove from heat and adjust the seasonings. Add egg, sour cream, and enough matzo meal or bread crumbs to hold together.   If you like, you can make the filling in advance and refrigerate

Next, make the dumplings:  Roll out the dough thinly. Cut into  3 x 3 inch squares. I ended up with two dozen. Place a generous spoonful of filling a little off to the side of each square.  I've read about all kinds of fancy shapes for žlikrofi, but I followed the old family method. Fold the square into a triangle and crimp the edges with a fork.

Cook dumplings in boiling salted water for 15 minutes.  Drain and serve.

I served the žlikrofi in a simple but tasty soup I figured out on the fly.  It goes like this: Purchase a good quality, organic chicken broth.   Add some baby carrots, a stalk or two of sliced celery, and  some chopped parsley. Simmer until carrots are tender.  Adjust seasonings.

Alternatively, you can serve žlikrofi on their own, topped with buttered bread crumbs.



The verdict:  Pretty good. Until I compared my žlikrofi to my recollection of my mother's wontons.  Then I started to fret aloud to my long-suffering husband.

My version didn't look like my mother's plump, neat triangles.  Mine were too small, misshapen, and lumpy.  I could have been more generous with the filling. (I did have some left over.)  And that ground meat filling just didn't have the texture of leftover roast beef that passes through a meat grinder.  And why did I decide to use part pork, anyway?

Despite my doubts, I decided to take the plunge.  I gave Mom a serving of žlikrofi a few weeks after Mother's Day.   It was frozen, so maybe she wouldn't get around to it for awhile.

But the final verdict came soon enough.  She called me up one day to deliver it.

I held my breath.

She loved it.  The filling tasted just fine.  No, they didn't seem too small.  And I had even crimped the edges with a fork, just the way my grandmother had taught her, when she was a girl.

Well, naturally.  How else would I do it?

"You do so many things well, Blair," she added.

It felt like a benediction.

                                                        


Here it is in photos, step by step:



Prepare the meat filling
Roll out the dough + cut into squares

Place spoonful of filling on dough
Fold into triangles; crimp edges with fork

Enjoy!
Boil
                                                                              
                                                                                                







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