Piroshki, Pirashki, or Pirogi?

by Marjan

Hope so far the flavors of my chicken pozole verde and Tex-Mex pizza fiesta have taken your pallet to a journey which has been warm, comforting and festive. January's culinary travel's last stop: Russia!
Who doesn't cheat once in a while? When it comes to food, I occasionally welcome cheat days! No law is broken and no one hurt. A life lived following a straight strict path is a life not lived!
Anything fried makes my knees weak! Fried dough filled with succulent spiced meat? The lure and taste is worth each sinful bite! I'm certain most of our readers and friends are shocked from this post, but don't be! It's good to be bad, sometimes!
Most of my recipes lean towards healthy. It doesn't matter whether you call these delectable treats piroshki, or piroshki or pirogi, these crispy, spongy fried dough filled with ground beef, eggs, onions, hint of curry and parsley are one of my guilty pleasures!


My conscious never allows me to cheat for very long, therefore, on occasion I bake my piroshki in the oven vs. deep frying. Same great taste with less oil, calories and weight gained around my waist line!



Originally a Russian or Ukrainian fried bun with variety of fillings, piroshki has been adapted from the Baltic region to East and Central Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. Savory or sweet, each country and region adapts the filling reflective of their availability of ingredients, taste and culture. For example, in Russia cabbage and dill fillings are popular where as in Japan, bean noodles, ground beef, and spring onions are used. Fortunately, my mother learned from her Armenian friends back in Iran how to make a fusion 'pirashki' adapting traditional Russian and Indian flavors. Classic Persian style pirashki incorporates ground beef, turmeric, onion, parsley and tomato paste. You too can adapt the filling to suit your personal taste.


I hope you enjoy my mother's recipe for pirashki. Both options of fried or baked are given, so you can choose.
Will you indulge in my guilty pleasure?

Ingredients:
1 packet Instant Rapid Rise Yeast
1/4 cup hot water + 3/4 room temperature/tap water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 teaspoon oil
1 cup Greek Yogurt
2 eggs
4-5 cups flour

Filling:
1 lb. ground organic beef
1 large onion; finely chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder (or 1 tablespoon tomatoes paste if you wish to make it Persian style)
2 hard boiled eggs; finely chopped
3-4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon each Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Deep frying pan
3-4 cups of vegetable oil for frying

Optional:
Sesame and/or nigella seeds (black seeds used on most Persian breads)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
bundt cake pan
1/4 cup milk

3 1/2 hours total preparation and cooking time.

Commence with preparing dough. Using a standing electric mixer with kneading blade, prepare yeast by adding hot and room temperature water and sugar; stir until yeast is dissolved and wait 15 minutes until mixture begins to form bubbles. Add salt, oil, yogurt and eggs to the yeast; mix well. One cup at a time on low speed, add flour. Increase speed to medium once the flour has blended into the liquid and lower speed prior to adding next cup of flour. Dough will separate from the wall of bowl and form into a sticky dough. If dough is too sticky, add 1/2 cup more flour at a time until dough forms into a ball. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and place in a slightly warm oven (100° F) oven. In 2 hours, dough will double in size.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, brown ground beef; with spatula, break up beef to pea size peaces. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes until translucent.
Add salt, pepper and curry powder (or tomato paste). Stir in well for another minute before removing pan from heat. Toss in chopped parsley and cool mixture to room temperature.












Once cooled completely, toss in eggs.



On a clean kitchen counter top, flour surface well. Remove dough and knead for a couple of minutes and form into a 1' 1/2" - 3/4" long log.

Fried Piroshki:
With a large sharp flat knife, evenly cut dough to render 12-15 equal sized portions (each the size of a large tangerine or small onion). With your fingers, tuck the sides of the dough under itself (as you would pizza dough) and place seam side down on a well floured surface to rest for 10 minutes.
In a large, deep frying pan prepare by adding 2-3 cups of vegetable oil. Turn on heat to medium low when half way completing filling piroshki dough.
Using your fingers, gently stretch dough into a flat round circle. A rolling pin may be used to flatten edges to create a larger, flatter edged dough.



Add 2-3 tablespoons of filling mix.



Wet inner edges of dough and fold to the top to seal and form into a circular pouch. With seam side down, place piroshki on floured surface and continue with remaining dough.



Once oil is hot (add a small piece of dough and it should float to the top and make bubbles), carefully add 2-3 doughs at a time. Once dark golden brown, carefully flip dough. Frying both sides should take 3-4 minutes total for each piroshki.



Once both sides are crispy and golden brown, with a large spatula, remove piroshki and place on thick quality paper towels to capture excessive oil. Continue with remaining until complete.

Bake Piroshki in Bundt Pan:
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Using a rolling pin, flatten out dough to 1' 3/4" foot long and 8" wide.



Pour the filling in the middle along the length. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top of meet mixture.



Brush milk on the four edges of the dough and carefully bring up one edge to the top of meat mix followed by the other length. With your fingers tightly seal open ends.



Grease bundt pan well. With both hands under the piroshki, quickly lift and place sealed top edge down into the pan. If this proves to be challenging, edge side can remain on top. Just make certain with wet finger, all the openings are sealed being careful not to tear or break dough. The ends of the
piroshki should come together. If short, you can stretch dough until both ends meet. Brush top with milk and sprinkle white sesame and nigella seeds on top.



Allow piroshki to rest for 5-10 minutes prior to placing in the oven to bake for 45-55 minutes until golden on top. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes. Flip piroshki over to a serving plater and cut slices to serve.



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