Lithuania’s National Dish is Cepelinai (or Zeppelins) which are Potato-Meat Dumplings. This dish was cited pretty much unanimously on the web as the National Dish of Lithuania. Perhaps now everyone can see why I was putting this one off. On a hot summer day, heavy potato dumplings don’t really come to mind. Plus, I am pretty sure I have eaten this exact thing already, except it was Norwegian and called Klub. So, I know what to expect!
Lithuanian Cepelinai (Potato-Meat Dumplings)
Adapted from an amalgamation of various recipes on the web but mostly from About.Com
This represents a 1/2 recipe
4 large Idaho potatoes, peeled, grated, and blended into a mush (applesauce consistency)
1 large Idaho potato, peeled, boiled and riced
1 small onion, peeled and finely grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pound ground pork
1 small onion
1/2 tsp salt
1 small egg
1/4 pound bacon, diced
1 small chopped onion
1 cup sour cream
pepper to taste
- Mix all meat ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Add a drop or two of lemon juice to the grated and mushed potatoes so they don’t turn brown. Place in a cheesecloth or cotton dish towel and twist to get rid of excess water. Do this in small batches. I did about 1/2 potato per squeeze. Pour off water, and reserve the potato starch at the bottom of the bowl.
- Unwrap cheesecloth and place potatoes in bowl with potato starch, riced boiled potatoes, grated onion and salt. Mix well.
- Put a large stockpot of water on to boil.
- To form Cepelinai, take about 1 cup of dumpling mixture and pat it flat in the palm of the hand creating a disk. Place 1/4 cup meat mixture in centre and using slightly dampened hands fold the potato mixture around the meat into a football shape sealing well.
- Carefully lower dumplings into salted, boiling water to which 1 tbsp cornstarch has been added (to prevent dumplings from falling apart).
- Make sure water returns to the boil and continue boiling for 45 minutes. Gently turn as they cook to try. Remove dumplings and drain on a clean dish towel.
- While dumplings are boiling make the gravy. Fry the bacon and onion until tender. Drain and combine with sour cream and black pepper. Thin with 1-2tbsp milk if necessary.