No, a cat didn’t walk across my keyboard.  I meant to type “pirozhkis.”

You know anything about pirozhkis?  I didn’t know squat about them, up until pretty recently.  For some reason I can’t recall, I got interested in empanadas and Cornish pasties and stuff like that, and along came pirozhkis.  They’re all analogous, but with some subtle cultural differentiations.

Maybe I’m still a mere meat-and-taters guy at heart (the recipe I’m about to give you doesn’t involve taters, but you could easily incorporate them).  I just love the idea of portable meat pies.

Pirozhkis

For the beef filling:

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, small dice
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef (lean is good)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 c. hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  • 1/4 c. beef or chicken stock, or water
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chopped dill or parsley

 

For the dough:

  • 2 1/2 c. self-rising flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten up
  • 1/2 c. oil (peanut oil’s nice, but whatever’s handy will do)
  • 2 tsp. water
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 whole egg beaten with a tablespoon or so of milk, cream, or water

Sweat the onion in the butter and then add the ground beef and let ‘er rock until the beef is nicely browned.  Add the mushrooms (unless you’re like me and despise mushrooms, in which case substitute fine-diced potatoes) and cook them together for a good 5 minutes.  Stir it pretty often so that it doesn’t stick to your pan.  You might have to add a bit more oil.  After the good 5 minutes, add the remaining filling ingredients, and let it cook really briefly, just enough to get it all happy together–not more than 30 seconds, probably (if you’re using diced potatoes instead of mushrooms, make sure that the potatoes are tender).  Take it off the heat and let it cool.

Okay, now make the dough.  Don’t panic; it’s easy.

Put the flour in a bowl and add the salt.  Use your hand to make a hollow well in the middle of the flour mound, and dump the eggs, oil, and water into the well.  Mix it all up well, and then turn it out of the bowl, onto a clean surface dusted well with flour, and knead the dough for a minute or two.  Do not be a pansy when it comes to kneading dough; be vigorous and tough (“violent” might be the best word to use, but it isn’t a word I like using).  Feel free to bang and whack the dough all over the place, and get out your various frustrations.  It’s very therapeutic.

That being done, roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/4″.  Cut it into rounds–I’d say about 5″ across–and glomp a spoonful of the cold filling onto each round.  Brush the edges of the dough with some of the egg beaten with water or milk or whatever, and fold the dough over to form a half-moon.  Pinch the edges together to make a nice seal (the beaten egg acts like glue and will assist you in this anti-filling-leak endeavor).  Brush some of the beaten egg stuff (what we call an “egg wash”) over the top of the dough, which will provide you with a beautifully brown and shiny glaze when they’re done.

Fire up your oven to 375º or 400º and bake them suckers until the dough is beautifully brown and shiny (don’t worry about the filling–it’s already cooked, remember?  All you need to do is cook the pastry.  When it looks nice and brown, it’s done).

And that, my friends, is a simple introduction to how to make pirozhkis.

Advertisements