Grandma Mala's Kreplach with a filling of chicken, onion, garlic, and dill on a spoon in the foreground. In the background, there is a bowl of chicken soup broth with chopped dill garnish, and in the soup are more kreplach.

Grandma Mala’s Kreplach

Kreplach (from Yiddish: קרעפּלעך,‎ pronounced krep-lakh or krep-luh) or kreplers, as they call them in France, are small, typically meat-filled dumplings served in soup or fried and served as an appetizer or side- I prefer to serve them in Grandma Mala’s Chicken Soup. This recipe is one that’s very dear to my heart indeed because it’s one of only a small handful of our family recipes that survived the Holocaust.

My Grandma Mala, a formidable and inspirational Holocaust survivor, learned how to make these kreplach by watching her mom, who I refer to as Grandma Esther. The family ate them at the beginning of Shabbat and Yom Tov (holiday) dinners. When she was 8 years old or so, she made them on her own for the very first time; Grandma Esther was pregnant and went into labor before she could finish preparing Shabbat dinner. Luckily, because Grandma Mala had seen her make the kreplach so many times before, she knew exactly what to do and how to do it. They turned out beautifully, and she’s been knocking people’s socks off with her delicious kreplach ever since!

This recipe honors the memory of my Grandma’s mom, my Grandma Esther, and her husband, my Papa Joel, and their children who loved eating Grandma Esther’s kreplach. This includes my grandma’s 3 younger siblings who, along with Grandma Esther, Papa Joel, and too many extended family members to count, were murdered between 1939 and 1945 at the hands of the Nazis.

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Heat a medium to large skillet on medium until hot, then add the schmaltz or oil. When it’s rippling, add the onion, garlic, and a Tbsp of kosher salt, and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a food processor, combine the meat with the onions and garlic, making sure to transfer as much schmaltz or oil as possible, and pulse until well-shredded. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the chopped dill, if using, and mix well until fully combined.

In another large mixing bowl, combine the flour, eggs, remaining salt, and water (or, to avoid cleaning another bowl, you can do this on the countertop by creating a mound with the flour and then making a well for the wet ingredients). Once the dough forms into a ball, knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough has become soft and elastic. Form it into a tidy ball, and rest under a damp cloth for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough ball into 4 segments.

Place 3 of the pieces under the damp cloth, and begin forming the 4th piece into a ball. Create a hole with your thumbs so that it looks like a bagel. Begin stretching it out until it’s about the thickness of a roll of quarters. Fold the long dough donut and wrap it in another damp cloth. Repeat this process with the other 3 pieces of dough.

Take a long dough loop and cut the ends so it becomes two “snakes.”

Roll them out to the approximate thickness of a roll of dimes. Cut inch-long pieces and store them in the same wet cloth, and repeat with all 4 loops until you have many small pieces of dough ready to form into kreplach.

Using one small piece of dough at a time, remove them from the damp cloth and roll into a small ball. Using your hands first, then a rolling pin, flatten the dough ball until it’s thin, but not so thin that it’s transparent.

Take about ½ tsp of the filling and place in the center of the dough “pancake” and fold it in half, pinching the edges to seal them so no filling escapes when they’re cooking.

Bring the corners together with their edges facing away from the filling rather than toward the ceiling. Overlap the corners a bit and pinch them to seal. Repeat with the rest of the little dough pieces.

If you’re serving the kreplach right away, skip to the second to last step. If you’re freezing the kreplach until you’re ready to serve them, lay them all flat on wax or parchment paper (on a sheet pan if possible- I often don’t have space for this). Leave a little room between them so they aren’t touching, or they will freeze together, and you won’t be able to select the precise amount you want at a given time. Chill for 10 minutes or so, then remove from the freezer and transfer to a container or bag all together. Because you took the time to chill them beforehand, they won’t stick together!

Just before you’re ready to serve the kreplach, bring a small to medium-sized saucepan full of aggressively salted water to a boil. Drop in your kreplach and stir so that they don’t stick to the bottom. Cook for about 5 minutes if frozen (2-3 minutes if fresh) or until they’re al dente.

Serve in piping hot chicken soup and garnish with dill (optional).

Grandma Mala's Kreplach with a filling of chicken, onion, garlic, and dill on a spoon in the foreground. In the background, there is a bowl of chicken soup broth with chopped dill garnish, and in the soup are more kreplach.

Grandma Mala’s Kreplach

Esther Weintraub (neé Rachapel), as taught to Mala Dorfman (neé Weintraub)
These supremely delicious kreplach, or Jewish soup dumplings, are made using a cherished family recipe that survived the Holocaust. They are savory, herbaceous, and make the perfect accompaniment for my Grandma Mala's chicken soup, which also survived the Holocaust. I make kreplach for Shabbat, Yom Tov (holidays), and anytime I need a treasured comfort food to transport me back to my childhood.
Prep Time 1 hr 30 mins
Resting & Chilling Time 40 mins
Course Appetizer, Soup
Cuisine Ashkenazi, Ashkenazi Jewish, Jewish
Servings 48 Kreplach (about 10 servings)

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup + 2 Tbsp (6 Tbsp total) water
  • 3 eggs
  • Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz leftover chicken or turkey (cooked), ideally a mixture of light and dark meat
  • 2 Tbsp schmaltz, or chicken fat (can substitute with oil)
  • 1 small bunch dill leaves (optional), chopped

Instructions
 

  • Heat a medium to large skillet on medium until hot, then add the schmaltz or oil. When it's rippling, add the onion, garlic, and a Tbsp of kosher salt, and cook until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the meat with the onion mixture, making sure to transfer as much schmaltz or oil as possible into the meat as well. Add the chopped dill, if using, and mix well until fully combined.
  • In another large mixing bowl, combine the flour, eggs, remaining salt, and water (or, to avoid cleaning another bowl, you can do this on the countertop by creating a mound with the flour and then making a well for the wet ingredients). Once the dough forms into a ball, knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough has become soft and elastic. Form it into a tidy ball, and rest under a damp cloth for 30 minutes.
  • Cut the dough ball into 4 segments. Place 3 of the pieces under the damp cloth, and begin forming the 4th piece into a ball. Create a hole with your thumbs so that it looks like a bagel. Begin stretching it out until it's about the thickness of a roll of quarters. Fold the long dough donut and wrap it in another damp cloth. Repeat this process with the other 3 pieces of dough.
  • Take a long dough loop and cut the ends so it becomes two "snakes." Roll them out to the approximate thickness of a roll of dimes. Cut inch-long pieces and store them in the same wet cloth, and repeat with all 4 loops until you have many small pieces of dough ready to form into kreplach.
  • Using one small piece of dough at a time, remove them from the damp cloth and roll into a small ball. Using your hands first, then a rolling pin, flatten the dough ball until it's thin, but not so thin that it's transparent.
  • Take about ½ tsp of the filling and place in the center of the dough "pancake" and fold it in half, pinching the edges to seal them so no filling escapes when they're cooking.
  • Bring the corners together with their edges facing away from the filling rather than toward the ceiling. Overlap the corners a bit and pinch them to seal. Repeat with the rest of the little dough pieces.
  • If you're serving the kreplach right away, skip to the second to last step. If you're freezing the kreplach until you're ready to serve them, lay them all flat on wax or parchment paper (on a sheet pan if possible- I often don't have space for this). Leave a little room between them so they aren't touching, or they will freeze together, and you won't be able to select the precise amount you want at a given time. Chill for 10 minutes or so, then remove from the freezer and transfer to a container or bag all together. Because you took the time to chill them beforehand, they won't stick together!
  • Just before you're ready to serve the kreplach, bring a small to medium-sized saucepan full of aggressively salted water to a boil. Drop in your kreplach and stir so that they don't stick to the bottom. Cook for about 5 minutes if frozen (2-3 minutes if fresh) or until they're al dente.
  • Serve in piping hot chicken soup and garnish with dill (optional).
Keyword Ashkenazi, Ashkenazi Recipe, Ashkenazi Recipes, Holocaust, Holocaust Recipe, Holocaust Recipes, Jewish, Jewish Cooking, Jewish Cuisine, Jewish Food, Jewish Recipe, Jewish Recipes, Kreplach, Kreplach Recipe, Kreplach Recipes

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