Every summer Doug and I make a point of cooking as much of our frozen foods as possible. In the coastal south, tropical conditions can cause power-outages that mean losing those treasures packed tightly in the freezer.
After rummaging through the freezer shelves, I found a partial package of wonton wraps, and a half pound package of ground lamb. What to make? Manti, of course!
I’d never made manti before, but have always enjoyed it at church bazaars - except for the time when they topped it with vanilla yogurt instead of plain! AWFUL!
Here's what I did to make Short-cut Manti:
For the dough:
I figured the wonton wraps would work well and save me time from making dough from scratch. The recipe called for dough squares that are 2- inches by 2- inches. The wonton wraps were 3- inch squares, so I rolled each one out to four-inch squares making it paper-thin, then cut each into 2-inch squares - a very muscle-building activity. OK, so it wasn’t too time-saving, but at least I didn’t have to make the dough!
The filling was easy.
Defrost the meat in the microwave. Mix in 1 medium onion, finely minced, salt, black pepper, Aleppo red pepper, and coriander to taste. Cook in a little olive oil until onions are tender, and meat is browned. Drain any excess grease. Cool until ready to use.
Shaping the manti.
I spread a little water on the edges of each dough square to act as “glue” to hold the dough together when cooking. After placing about ½ teaspoon of the cooled filling in the center of the dough, I shaped each piece according to the directions in Alice Antreassian’s cookbook, “Armenian Cooking Today” - “lift up and pinch together neighboring corners to form a canoe”.
The shaped manti were placed in a greased baking pan, and baked for 30 minutes at 375 degrees F. The bottoms were supposed to be golden brown and the tops just lightly browned.
The final step was to heat the manti in broth for another 10 or so minutes, and top with a dollop of plain - or garlic-enhanced yogurt.
Something went very wrong.
The timer went off, and I went to retrieve the manti from the oven. Much to my dismay, I found a pan of overly-toasted manti. I wanted to discard my failed attempt, but I could hear my mother's voice in the background warning me not to. (With our limited dental plan, I knew Doug and I wouldn't want eat these, and risk chipping our teeth.)
I didn't throw them away, as I was tempted to do. Instead I wrapped them and placed them in the refrigerator. Turns out, over-baked manti makes a pleasant little munchy snack - once they've softened up a bit. Plain yogurt for dipping helps, too.
What did I learn from this?
1. Wonton wraps don’t need to bake for 30 minutes.
2. Sometimes shortcuts aren't very short.
3. Throwing away food is forbidden.
Will I ever try to make manti again? Sure, but not until I gain strength back in my arms from rolling all of those wonton wraps.