How to Make Lithuanian Cepelinai (Zeppelin) Dumplings

Lituanian cepelinai
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    A National Dish of Lithuania

    Lithuanian Cepelinai Dumpling at Racine Bakery in Chicago
    Barbara Rolek

    Lithuanian cepelinai or zeppelin dumplings are hearty, football-shaped dumplings made with grated raw potatoes and riced boiled potatoes.

    They are made in either a curd cheese variety (like farmer's cheese) served with a sour cream-milk sauce, or a meat variety (ground pork or a ground pork-ground veal mixture), and served with a sour cream-bacon-onion sauce.

    Here, Lina Ceplinskiene, a cook for Grand Duke's Restaurant in Summit, Ill., shows how she has made Lithuanian meat Cepelinai all her life. She is using a special processor common in Lithuania, but you can use a typical food processor.

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  • 02 of 16

    Start with Potatoes

    Lithuanian Cepelinai Dumplings Are Made with Idaho Potatoes
    Barbara Rolek

    As the main ingredient is potatoes, you will need large peeled raw Idaho potatoes.

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    Cutting the Potatoes

    Potatoes Are Cut for Cepelinai Dumplings
    Barbara Rolek

    The first step is to grate the potatoes. Fit your food processor with the smallest hole grating disc. Cut the potatoes so they will fit into the food chute of your food processor.

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    Feeding the Food Chute

    Feeding the Food Chute to Make Cepelinai Dumplings
    Barbara Rolek

    Feed the quartered pieces of potato through the food chute to be grated. 

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    Potatoes Are Grated Finely

    Potatoes Are Finely Grated for Cepelinai
    Barbara Rolek

    The raw potatoes are grated very finely so they form a smooth purée. 

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    The Potatoes Are Wrung Dry

    Potatoes Are Wrung Dry for Cepelinai
    Barbara Rolek

    It is important that all of the liquid be removed from the potatoes. Place the potato pulp in a muslin cloth or cheesecloth and wring it dry over a bowl to catch the water and potato starch (which you will use).

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    The Potato Starch Is Saved

    The Potato Starch at the Bottom of the Bowl Is Saved for Cepelinai
    Barbara Rolek

    Carefully dispose of the water from the potatoes which collected when they were wrung dry. Make sure to leave the potato starch sediment at the bottom of the bowl.

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    Adding The Squeeze-Dried Potatoes

    The Dry Raw Potato Purée Goes into the Mixing Bowl
    Barbara Rolek

    Remove the squeeze-dried potatoes from the cloth and transfer to a bowl with the reserved potato starch.

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    Adding Riced Potatoes and Grated Onion

    Riced Potatoes Are Added to the Cepelinai Mixture
    Barbara Rolek

    Next, you will need to boil potatoes for ricing. After they are cooked, push through a ricer. Then grate some onion. Add the riced potatoes and grated onion to the mixing bowl and combine.

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    Have the Ingredients to Make Meat Cepelinai at Hand

    The Ingredients Are Ready to Make Meat Cepelinai
    Barbara Rolek

    Make sure you have all of your ingredients ready before you begin to form the meat cepelinai. Lina uses an all-pork filling for her meat cepelinai, but a combination of pork, beef, and veal also can be used. 

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  • 11 of 16

    Start With a Handful of Potato Mixture

    Cepelinai Start with a Patty of Potato Mixture
    Barbara Rolek

    Take about 1 cup of potato mixture and flatten it into a patty in the palm of your hand.

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    Fill With a Generous Portion of Meat

    Cepelinai Are Filled with a Generous Portion of Meat
    Barbara Rolek

    Take a generous portion of pork filling and place it in the center of the flattened potato patty.

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    The Meat Is Encased in the Potato Mixture

    The Meat Is Encased in the Cepelinai Mixture
    Barbara Rolek

    Using slightly dampened hands, encase the meat in the potato mixture, making sure it is sealed well.

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    The Shaped Cepelinai Await the Boiling Pot

    The Shaped Cepelinai Await the Boiling Pot
    Barbara Rolek

    Line up the shaped cepelinai until they have all been formed before starting to boil them. 

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    Boiling the Cepelinai

    Boiling the Cepelinai
    Barbara Rolek

    Adding cornstarch to the boiling water will assure the dumplings won't fall apart when boiling. Lower the dumplings carefully into the water and let the meat dumplings cook for 25 minutes. 

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    Serving Meat Cepelinai

    Meat Cepelinai
    Barbara Rolek

     Meat cepelinai are served with a sour cream-bacon-onion sauce.