Varenyky (pronounced vah-rEH-nee-key) are stuffed dumplings from the Russian and Ukraine regions. I grew up with my Russian nan making them by the zillions on a regular basis. We had them for dinner, smothered in melted butter. Yum!
These delicious dumplings are a lot larger than ravioli and tortellini. At about half the size of your palm, the are quite filling.
While varenyky can be made with a variety of fillings – similar to a ravioli, for example – my favourite by far is a filling of beef mince, potato and onion. So here is the recipe. Please make them and let me know what you think.
Varenyky (Russian dumplings)Course: Dinner, LunchDifficulty: Medium
Cook ahead option, Ingredient options, Storing suggestion
a parent of Wahroonga Public School
Varenyky (pronounced vah-rEH-nee-key) are stuffed dumplings from the Russian and Ukraine regions. While they can be made with a variety of fillings – similar to a ravioli, for example – my favourite is a filling of beef mince, potato and onion. Please make them and let me know what you think.
750g (about 5 medium) potatoes, peeled, chopped
1 tbs butter
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 medium brown onions, finely chopped
1 tbs chicken stock powder
750g beef mince
Knobs of butter, to serve
1 1/2 cups water
750g plain flour, plus extra, to dust
- Place the potatoes in a large saucepan of water. Bring to the boil. Cook for 30 mins or until tender and a knife easily passes through. Drain well. Use a potato masher to mash.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 mins or until softened. Add the stock powder and mince. Cook, breaking up any clumps, for 8 mins or until meat is browned and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large, deep roasting pan.
- Add the mash to the meat mixture and use a fork to fold in and combine (try not to mush it too much). Set aside to cool completely.
- To make the dough, whisk the water and egg in a jug. Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the salt and make a well in the centre. Add egg mixture to the well and stir until mixture comes together.
- Turn out dough onto a lightly floured benchtop. Use your hands to form a ball. Knead for several mins, until dough is smooth and silky. Halve the dough, then use hands to roll each portion into a 4cm-dia log. Use a knife to cut 1.5cm rounds from each log.
- Use a rolling pin to roll each dough round into a 10cm-dia circle (see note). Fill the centre of each dough circle with about 1 1/2 tbs of cooled filling.
- One at a time, pick up the top and bottom edge of each dough circle until they meet. Use your thumb and index finger to pinch edges together from the centre out to the sides to completely seal the filling inside the dough (this is very important). Pick up the half circle in one hand and use your thumb and index finger on the other to scallop the sealed edge by turning over a little of the edge at 1cm intervals (see main photo). Place each completed varenyky, which are about the size of half of your palm) on a floured board or bench. Do not let them touch or they will stick together and break open.
- To cook the varenyky, fill a large pot with water, season with salt and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Place knobs of butter in 2 deep serving dishes. Working in 3 batches, carefully submerge 7-8 varenyky in the boiling water. When they rise to the top, remove them with a slotted spoon and place them in the prepared serving dishes. Gently toss them to coat in the butter and prevent them from sticking together. Serve.
Tips and notes
- As long as your filling is fairly dry (no wetter than mashed potato), you can mix and match your fillings to suit. Try 5 potatoes, 5 rashers of bacon and 1 onion, then cook like the above recipe, OR mix together 900g pressed cottage cheese, 1 egg and a pinch of salt.
- You can work in batches to roll out the dough circles and fill them. Or you can place a plastic tablecloth over your dining table, then dust it with flour, to create enough space to make them all at once.
- To save on time, you can make the filling the night before assembling the varenyky. Simply cool, cover the pan in plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
- Leftovers? Keep them in the buttered dishes and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave until warm. Varenyky are not quite as soft when they are reheated, but they still taste really good.
- We always just ate the varenyky with a fork and knife and without any condiments or sides. But you can always serve them with a salad, tomato sauce, sauerkraut or sour cream.
- You need a bit of room to make varenyky. I place a plastic tablecloth on the dining table and dust it with flour, then I make and prepare them all there.