Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ok, some Russian food , Meat Piroshki

Every culture has their dough stuffed with stuff pocket hand held food item. For Mexicans it is the Empanadas, the Chinese have their Cha Siu Baau The Polish have their pirogi, and the Russian have the Piroshki.

Guess which ones I like? Well actually I like them all, but I know how to make really great Piroshki!

Piroshki were not a daily food for me growing up , they were a special once in a while food that took my mother or grandmother seemed to take half a day to make.

It is not a difficult process but it is worth the effort. I make them when I know that someone is going to come over and visit, I have yet to find anyone that doesn't enjoy them. Sometime I just make them because I want to reward myself and why not. I can hold back on the foie gras another time.....

There are lots of varieties of them, whether they are fried or baked or stuffed with meat, potatoes, cabbage or fish and rice noodles.

This one is my normal meat one.

You will first need to make the filling, then the dough, the filling can be made up a day or two ahead thus making the assembly on the final day pretty easy.

Take a 12 inch skillet and place on the heat on medium, while adding the hamburger or ground meat, try and break it up into the smallest chunks, it will make it easier in the end. While browning the meat, add the chopped onion, egg and dill. Once it has cooked 5 to 10 minutes remove from heat and let cool a little, add the pepper and salt. If you never have had them before , taste your salt as you add it, to your comfort taste level.

Let cool, and I usually tilt the pan on something damming up the meat to one end to let the grease run off, then I dab it with a paper towel removing the most.
It is at this point you can transfer it to a plastic tub with a cover and stick it in the refrigerator until needed.

The dough

There is the "from scratch" method and the "easy". I will give you both.

From Scratch.

Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water, (not over 110) add sugar and enough flour to make a consistency of sour cream, maybe a tad thicker. Cover with a towel put in a warm place and let it rise until it has almost double in bulk. The when it is ready punch down and add the rest of the ingredients. and enough flour to make it soft but not sticky dough.
Cover again and let it rise in a warm place.

Once the dough is ready, lightly flour a surface and foll out the dough to 1/8 of an inch thickness.
If you are having a problem with getting it that thin, you can roll it out to 1/4 then cut it smaller and roll out the dough circle to workable thinness.
Now I like to make decent sized Piroshki. Some people like small ones, to me it is easy to make them larger, that way you make fewer ones, and eat less dough. Or at least the theory goes.
You need to find a round object to use as a cutter, I like a 6 inch coffee can, it has decently sharp edges, to use to press the dough in order to cut the circle.
You could use almost any object that will give you a impression in the dough good enough to cut through or you may have to finish it off with a sharp knife.
So now you have a lot of cut pieces of dough.
If you left the dough thicker, now would be the time you could roll it out a tad thinner, but remember to keep the dough in a circle or as round as you can. The thicker the dough is the more doughy the end product will be, because the dough will puff up during the cooking process!

Final assembly.
Take the dough disk, and in the middle of it place enough meat to fill about 1/3 of the circle. If you use a spoon to do it, you will have the meat be loose and the ratio of meat to bread will be higher.
What I like to do is take the cold meat and form it into meat "pods" the size of what I want to place into the dough. Naturally you cannot do it immediately before since your hands will be greasy and it will be a mess. You can do it in a prior step kind of like making meatballs, just form them and press them tightly together as tight as possible, then let them rest, ready to use.

So...back to the dough. Place the meat in the center of the dough and then pick up the edges of the dough and bring the two opposite side together. The dough will stretch if your did it correctly and you will also judge the amount of meat that is correct for the circle you cut. Once you have the dough together, you pinch the seam together with your fingers, keeping the meat inside and not in the seam. The end result will sort of look like a large almond, with the dough completely surrounding the meat, evenly crimp at the seam,. Once you have it all crimped you can lift it up and rest it on a piece of wax paper on a sheet, I usually will let it rest on the seam, this makes sure there is no pressure trying to pull the seam apart. Lightly press the meat pod to flatten it while it rests.
This process will take a little practice but it really is easy after you do, a couple.

Once they have rested, you can let them rise for about 10-15 minutes.
Get the oil in a fry pan ready, heat enough oil so that it will cover at least half of the Piroshki
fry until the dough is a golden brown, turning it half way to get the other side, then remove and drain on a paper towel and then eat!
Once you bite into the steaming hot piece of dough you may want to season it more with either salt, pepper or I will dash some soy sauce into it, but most often if you seasoned the meat correctly it will not need anything else.
Be sure and serve them hot they are the best that way!

The easier dough method, if you have available at your store, Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix. This comes in a box and usually I need two boxes to make a batch of Piroshki. Any excess dough can be fried up and make a great buttered bread for breakfast. ( Not a low fat product)

Stuff you will need:

1 lb of ground beef 10% fat
1 small onion chopped 1/4 dice
2 hard boiled eggs chopped as onion
3 TBS soy sauce
2 TBS flour
3 TBS chopped fresh dill or 1 TBS dried
salt and pepper to taste

2 cups lukewarm water
1 package dry yeast
1/2 sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
2 egg yolks
dash of salt
5-51/2 cups of flour

Once you have mastered the process you will find it quiet easy to put together. Or you can find a Russian Delicatessen and pay anywhere from about 2 to 4 dollars each, and they will not taste as good. They are usually a lot more breadier and have little meat filling!

1 comment:

T.A. said...

My favorite comfort food, but definitely only one in a while. I find it horrifically labor intensive, but on the occasions when I do put in the effort, it's well worth it!

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