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Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the sage, garlic, and onion and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Mix the cranberries and pork in a medium bowl. Add the cooled sage and onion mixture and salt and stir to combine. Cook one tablespoon to test for seasoning before rolling into dumplings.
Fold the Dumplings
For the classic pleated style hold a wrapper in your left hand and place a spoonful of filling into the center with your right hand. Depending on how large you’ve rolled your wrappers, this is usually about ¾ to a whole tablespoon. Be sure to leave enough room to close the wrapper, ideally about a centimeter border surrounding the filling. Tempting as it is to over-stuff the dumpling, the filling will squirt messily out the sides and make the folding process much more difficult.
Fold the wrapper in half into a taco shape and start from the right side to pinch the wrapper shut. If you're using store-bought wrappers, you'll probably need a small bowl of water to help seal the wrappers. Dip a finger into the water and smear it around the edge of each wrapper before you fold so the dough sticks together when you pinch shut. After each pinch, fold the side farthest from you into a pleat towards the pinched end and press it back together. The side closest to you should remain smooth and will gradually curve towards you into a crescent shape.
Continue to pleat and pinch until the entire dumpling is sealed, aiming for 5-6 pleats per dumpling or more if you want to get fancy. As you fold, place the dumplings onto a large plate or sheet pan in rows with a little space between each one. You can either cook them right away, or place the sheet pan into the freezer so they can freeze without squishing each other. Once frozen, transfer the dumplings into plastic bags for storage.
Cooking the Dumplings
Find a large skillet (nonstick works well here) for which you have a lid. Coat the bottom of the skillet with a thin layer of neutral oil (about a tablespoon) and heat at medium heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmery, carefully fill the pan with a single layer of dumplings (non-pleated side down), leaving enough room so the dumplings are not quite touching each other. Cook for 2-4 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown – you can carefully pick one up to check.
Turn the heat to medium-low and grab the lid and about ¼ cup of water. Shielding yourself with the lid, pour the water into the hot pan – it will steam and sizzle, so be careful there isn’t too much oil in the pan to spatter all over the place. Place the lid down over the pan so the steam cooks the top of the dumplings and let sit for 4-6 minutes, 7-10 minutes if cooking from frozen.
Once all the water has evaporated, the wrappers should be slightly translucent and the filling should be properly cooked. If the dumplings don’t look cooked, add a splash of water and cover again for a minute or two. You can always test for doneness by breaking open a dumpling or using your instant-read thermometer. Turn the heat up slightly, and the remaining oil in the bottom of the pan will re-crisp the bottom of the dumplings. Depending on your heat, water and oil levels, you may need to add more water or oil, but you’ll get the hang of it after practice, we promise.
A few notes: traditionally, pan-seared dumplings are only fried on the bottom, but you can flip the dumplings over for an additional sear. It adds more crunch and flavor and can help if you’re using pre-made wrappers, which are sometimes dry around the edges.
Brought to you by Chef Irene Li from The Cranberry Chef Collective
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