Chosen Bites: Good things in small packages

Slow Braised Short Rib Kreplach can be a perfect alternative to the traditional hamantaschen for Purim.

Slow Braised Short Rib Kreplach (photo credit: Laura Frankel)
Slow Braised Short Rib Kreplach
(photo credit: Laura Frankel)
Little purses stuffed with surprise fillings are fun and delicious treats for Purim. While homemade kreplach require a bit of effort, they are worth the time spent. I like to use the kreplach in a variety of ways.
They are most often served in soups. I also like to crisp them up and add them as “croutons” to salads and to serve them with dipping sauces as hors d’ oeuvres.
Slow Braised Short Rib Kreplach
I love the entire process of braising and especially relish the fact that I can get double-duty from one batch of melt in the mouth short ribs. I always make extra short ribs and use the tender meat in soups, pasta dishes and these kreplach.
I serve the kreplach as a comforting addition to soup or as a playful addition to salads.
For a crispy appetizer or salad “crouton”, cook the kreplach in batches over medium heat in a sauté pan with about ½ inch of olive oil until lightly browned and slightly crisped on both sides.
Serve with garlicky-aioli or favorite dipping sauce.
For the short ribs:
5-7 pounds English cut short ribs2 medium carrots, cut into large dice2 ribs celery, cut into large dice1 medium Spanish onion, cut into large dice8 cloves of garlic, minced1 bottle red wine1 cup chicken stock (homemade preferred)3 tablespoons tomato paste1 bouquet garni (parsley stems, celery rib, thyme stems, bay leaf)Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 325F or slow cooker to Low
1.    Season short ribs with salt and pepper.
2.    Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Brown the short ribs, in batches, on all sides until they are crispy and caramelized (about five minutes per side).
3.    Drain off all the fat but two tablespoons. Add the carrots, celery and onions to the pan. Brown the vegetables until they are golden brown (about seven minutes). Add the garlic and continue cooking for two minutes until the garlic has slightly softened and is very fragrant. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the vegetables. Add the red wine and chicken stock and continue cooking until the liquid has reduced by ½.
4.    Add the short ribs to the pan and bouquet garni and cover. Cook for three hours or for eight hours in a slow cooker until the short ribs can be easily pierced with a fork and have no resistance.
5.    Gently remove the short ribs and vegetables from the Dutch oven. Discard the vegetables. Reduce the liquid until you have a thick glaze (about 2 cups).
For the kreplach:Shred the meat with your hands and discard the fat, bones, and membranes. Run the meat and onions through a meat grinder with a medium blade or pulse in a food processor. (I like my kreplach meat to have a little texture to it and not be pasty.) Combine the ground mixture and skimmed liquid in a sauté pan and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture is only slightly moist. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate while the dough is prepared.
Kreplach DoughMakes enough dough for 75 kreplach
2 cups all-purpose flour2 eggs1 tablespoon water1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Place the flour on a clean work surface and make a well in the center.
2. Whisk the eggs with the water and salt. Pour the egg mixture into the center of the well. Work the eggs into the flour a little at a time until the mixture forms a ball of dough. Push the excess flour to the side and add more if the dough feels sticky.
3. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about five minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and rest it in the refrigerator for up to one day.
4. Cut the dough into small sections, about the size of a golf ball. Keeping the rest of the dough covered, flatten the dough and feed it into a pasta machine set at number 5. Flour the dough lightly and lower the pasta machine to number 4. Feed the dough through the machine. Continue until the dough has gone through the machine setting at number 1. Place the rolled dough on a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with a clean towel.
5. Continue rolling the rest of the dough until all the dough has gone through the machine to the lowest setting. Cut the dough into 2[1/2]-inch squares.
6. Lay one sheet of dough on a floured surface. Trim the dough to a rectangle. Place a walnut size piece of meat every 2 inches. Brush the dough with water around each mound of meat.
7. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. If using wonton skins, cut them into 2 1/2-inch squares. Working in batches, lay out the kreplach dough or wonton squares on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly brush the squares with water. Place a teaspoon of meat in the center of the square and fold over to form a triangle. Push out any air bubbles and press the edges together to seal. Place the kreplach on the sheet pan. The kreplach can be frozen at this point and stored in a heavy freezer bag for up to 3 months
8. To cook the kreplach, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the kreplach until they float to the top, about five minutes. With a slotted spoon or wire skimmer, transfer the kreplach to a sheet pan.
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.