Monday, 14 November 2011

P is for... Pigeon, parsley and porcini pelmeni

Pigeon, parsley and porcini pelmeni
Pelmeni are Russian dumplings made from unleavened dough. They are very similar to Polish pierogi, but unlike pierogi which can be made sweet, pelmeni are exclusively savoury. Pelmeni are stuffed with raw fillings before cooking, while pierogi are often stuffed with pre-cooked fillings. 

Pelmeni are traditionally made by hand, but I think you could just as well put the dough through a pasta machine. In fact, these little dumplings are close cousins in both construction and taste to large tortellini. In fact, I wish I hadn't been such a stickler for tradition on P night and cranked up the pasta machine. It would would have made the process less faffy and the pelmeni certainly wouldn't have suffered for having more thinly rolled dough.

Pigeon is a delicious dark meat with a rich and subtly gamey flavour and soft, tender flesh - a perfect match for the porcini mushrooms and parsley. The pelmeni were elegant but rustic, tasty and filling. Definitely the perfect plateful for cold, dark nights when only serious carbs can cut it.

Pigeon, parsley and porcini pelmeni

for the dough

400g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
200ml cold water

for the filling

30g tub of dried porcini mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 pigeon breasts
4 rashers of streaky bacon
A handful of flat leaf parsley
1 egg
1 glass of white wine
25g/ 1oz butter, plus extra for frying off the mushrooms
Salt and pepper

Simply bung all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until a dough has formed. If you don't have a food processor, place the dry ingredients in a mound on the worktop, create a well and crack the egg in. Fork the egg into the flour and salt and then gradually mix in the cold water and knead for 15-20 minutes or until you have a smooth, elastic dough. Cover the dough in cling film and leave to rest for half an hour or so.

In the meantime, make the filling. Place the dried porcini in a bowl and pour over boiling water - just enough to cover the mushrooms. Leave them to soak for 20 minutes and drain, reserving the mushroom liquor. Place the liquor in a saucepan with the wine and reduce the liquid until you are left with about 2 tablespoons' worth. Leave to cool.

Place the pigeon, bacon, garlic, flat leaf parsley, butter, egg, seasoning and cold reduced porcini liquor in a food processor and blitz the whole lot together until finely minced. Fry off a teaspoon of the meat and taste for seasoning, adjusting if necessary. 

Unwrap the dough and cut it in half, then rewrap one half. Roll the other into a long 1 inch thick sausage with your hands. Cut the sausage into 1 inch thick pieces and then roll each individual piece into thin rounds with a lightly floured rolling pin. Place a teaspoon of filling into the centre of the circle, lightly dampen the edges with a little water and fold over and seal, so you end up with a crescent shape. Take both ends of the crescent and pinch them together. Set aside on a floured surface and repeat with the remaining dough rounds. Once you've filled all the rounds, roll the other half of the dough into a long sausage and repeat the process.

Ten minutes before serving, fry off the pre-soaked porcini mushrooms in plenty of butter and season generously. In the meantime, heat up a large pan of water with salt and once it's boiling, throw in the pelmeni in three stages and cook for 3-4 minutes or until they rise up to the surface. Remove the pelmeni with a slotted spoon and place three on pre-warmed plates. Top with a few buttery mushrooms and a drizzle of the butter from the pan.

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