Legendary Dishes | Pierogi / Pīrāgi / Pirogi Пироги (bread-cake dough pies)

POLAND RUSSIA UKRAINE

Pies filled closed or open with a combination from apple, cabbage, cheese, egg, mushroom, onion, potato, pumpkin and rice to accompany fish or meat with various aromatics and jams are an integral feature of the traditional food of northern Europe, from the Baltic states across to the Russian heartlands and down to the Ukrainian steppes.

What makes these particular pies unique in traditional cuisine are the various types of dough, which are a cross between a cake dough and a yeast dough with a liquid medium that could be kefir or milk, fat content that could be butter or margarine and sour cream and include potato among the various types of flour.

The sour-sweet combination that is apple, cabbage and onion is the traditional base and after that there are countless variations on numerous themes that include chicken, fish and various meats.

The pies come in all shapes and sizes.

Dough

  • 500 g white wheat flour, t550
  • 200 ml milk, warmed to 38ºC
  • 1 small egg
  • 60 g sugar
  • 50 g sour cream
  • 25 g butter / margarine, melted
  • 25 g yeast
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 5 g salt
  • 1 egg, beaten, for glazing

Dissolve the yeast in 5 tablespoons of the warm milk and one teaspoon of sugar, leave to froth for 15 minutes.

In a bowl whisk the sour cream into the remaining milk and sugar. Add the yeast mixture followed by the melted butter or margarine, and finally the egg and salt with a few swift turns of the whisk each time. Sieve the flour into this mixture, fold out onto a clean work surface and begin to knead.

This is a sticky dough so after 5 minutes add a drop of oil, around a teaspoon, knead for a further 5 minutes, add more oil, knead again for 5 minutes, add oil and knead until the dough is elastic, adding more oil if necessary.

The desired dough temperature is 24ºC.

Leave to rise for two hours, degas, leave to rise again, for another two hours.

Filling

  • 1 green cabbage / kale, leaves separated, stems removed, blanched in hot water for 30 minutes, sliced into strips
  • 1 kg beef mince
  • 1 kg onions, sliced
  • 1 kg sour apples, peeled, cored, puréed with 30 g sugar
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp mixed dried herbs (from dill, lovage, marjoram, sage, tarragon)
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Fry the onions in 2 tablespoons of oil over a high heat for 5 minutes, cover, reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes until the onions are soft and have taken on colour at the edges.

Divide the onion mixture into three portions.

Put the minced meat in the onion pan, add one third of the cooked onions and gently bring up the heat. When the meat begins to brown low the heat and reduce the liquid content.

Put the blanched cabbage strips in a small pot, add the second third of the cooked onions, cook over a medium heat until the cabbage is soft and the liquid is reduced, about 15 minutes.

Put the last third of the cooked onions in a pot, add 500 grams of apple purée, cook over a high heat until the liquid is reduced.

Grease 4 pie tins. Roll out the dough to a thickness of half a centimetre. Cut into two rounds with a sufficient amount of dough to come up the sides, press into the tins. Leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Roll out the remaining dough and cut into rounds slightly larger than the diametre of the pie tins.

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Spoon the meat-onion mixture onto the bottom of each pie dough, cover with the cabbage-onion mixture followed by the apple-onion mixture. Top with remaining apple purée.

Place the dough rounds on top. Seal the edges of each dough, impress edges with a fork. Pierce the top of each pie with the fork. Glaze the tops with an egg wash.

Bake for 35 minutes.