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A National Dish of Lithuania
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.Continue to 2 of 16 below.
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Start With Potatoes
As the main ingredient is potatoes, you will need large peeled raw Idaho potatoes.Continue to 3 of 16 below.
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Cutting the Potatoes
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.Continue to 4 of 16 below.
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Feeding the Food Chute
Feed the quartered pieces of potato through the food chute to be grated.Continue to 5 of 16 below.
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Potatoes Are Grated Finely
The raw potatoes are grated very finely so they form a smooth purée.Continue to 6 of 16 below.
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The Potatoes Are Wrung Dry
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).Continue to 7 of 16 below.
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The Potato Starch Is Saved
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.Continue to 8 of 16 below.
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Adding the Squeeze-Dried Potatoes
Remove the squeeze-dried potatoes from the cloth and transfer to a bowl with the reserved potato starch.Continue to 9 of 16 below.
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Adding Riced Potatoes and Grated Onion
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.Continue to 10 of 16 below.
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Have the Ingredients to Make Meat Cepelinai at Hand
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.Continue to 11 of 16 below.
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Start With a Handful of Potato Mixture
Take about 1 cup of potato mixture and flatten it into a patty in the palm of your hand.Continue to 12 of 16 below.
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Fill With a Generous Portion of Meat
Take a generous portion of pork filling and place it in the center of the flattened potato patty.Continue to 13 of 16 below.
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The Meat Is Encased in the Potato Mixture
Using slightly dampened hands, encase the meat in the potato mixture, making sure it is sealed well.Continue to 14 of 16 below.
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The Shaped Cepelinai Await the Boiling Pot
Line up the shaped cepelinai until they have all been formed before starting to boil them.Continue to 15 of 16 below.
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Boiling the Cepelinai
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.Continue to 16 of 16 below.
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Serving Meat Cepelinai
Meat cepelinai are served with a sour cream-bacon-onion sauce.