|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 29g||37%|
|Saturated Fat 11g||55%|
|Total Carbohydrate 86g||31%|
|Dietary Fiber 9g||31%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 39mg||194%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Lithuanian potato-meat dumplings are known as zeppelins or cepelinai because of their shape. These hearty and rich dumplings take some time to make, but they are well worth the effort. Don't be intimidated by the recipe as it has a few steps in order to make each component, including the filling, the dumpling, and the gravy.
The potatoes for cepelinai are prepared in two ways—raw potatoes, which are peeled and grated, and then cooked potatoes, which are peeled, boiled, and riced. A potato ricer is a handy and useful tool to have to prepare them. Use your favorite ground meat combination for the recipe, we have offered alternate suggestions in our tips below.
The national dish of Lithuania, cepelinai are best served and eaten as soon as made. The cooked dumplings are hard to store, and are best piping hot and covered with hot gravy.
"These potato meat dumplings are very good, though making them successfully can take some practice. To keep them from falling apart, make sure the raw potato mixture is smooth (finely grated), not shredded, and keep the stuffed dumplings at a gentle boil. " —Diana Rattray
For the Meat Filling:
1 pound ground pork, or an equal mix of pork, beef, and veal
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, beaten
For the Dumplings:
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and finely grated, about 5 pounds
2 large Idaho or Russet potatoes, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled, boiled, and riced
1 medium onion, finely grated
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the Gravy:
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup sour cream
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons milk, as needed
Steps to Make It
Make the Meat Filling
Gather the ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix together ground meat, finely chopped onion, the salt, a few grinds of pepper, and the egg until well combined.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the Dumplings
Gather the ingredients.
Add the lemon juice to the raw grated potatoes so they don't turn brown.
Place them in a fine-mesh cheesecloth or cotton dishtowel, and twist over a large bowl to get rid of the excess water.
Pour off the water, reserving the potato starch at the bottom of the bowl.
Unwrap the cheesecloth and place the raw potatoes in the bowl with the potato starch you reserved from the bottom of the bowl.
Add the cooked riced potatoes, grated onion, and the salt, more to taste. Mix well.
Put a large stockpot of well-salted water on to boil.
To form the zeppelins, take about 1 cup of dumpling mixture and pat it flat in the palm of the hand.
Place 1/4 cup or more of meat mixture in the center and, using slightly dampened hands, fold the potato mixture around the meat into a football shape, sealing well. Continue until both mixtures are used.
Cook the Dumplings
Carefully lower dumplings (in batches if necessary to prevent crowding) into salted, boiling water to which 1 tablespoon of cornstarch has been added (to prevent dumplings from falling apart).
Make sure water returns to the boil; reduce the heat to low and continue simmering until the filling is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove dumplings with a slotted spoon or strainer, drain briefly on a clean dish towel and place on a heated platter.
Make the Gravy
Gather the ingredients.
While the dumplings are boiling, make the gravy. In a medium skillet, fry the bacon and chopped onion until tender.
Drain and combine with sour cream and black pepper. Thin with 1 to 2 tablespoons milk if necessary.
Ladle the gravy over the dumplings or pass the gravy at the table.
- If your cepelinai tend to fall apart, try adding a few tablespoons of dry potato starch to the potato mixture along with the reserved wet starch.
- A Lithuanian potato grater is an excellent option, but if you aren't able to find one, grate the raw potatoes with the smallest grater holes then pulse them in a food processor until smooth.
- Instead of cheesecloth or a dish cloth, use a nut milk bag to wring out excess water.
- Let the potato water settle for a few minutes before pouring it off—the pasty starch will remain in the bottom of the bowl.
- Starchy russets, aka Idaho potatoes, are the potato to use to make cepelinai.
- A potato ricer makes the preparation of the cooked potatoes much easier.
- You can use all ground pork or a meatloaf-style mixture of pork, beef, and veal.
- If you don't eat meat, you could make another variety of dumplings that are potato-cheese cepelinai.
How to Store
- Cepelinai may be made shaped ahead of time. Refrigerate the filled dumplings overnight and boil them the next day.
- To freeze, arrange the uncooked cepelinai on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer them to a container or freezer bag and freeze them for up to 1 month. Boil the cepelinai from frozen, adding about 5 to 10 minutes to the total cooking time.