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I think it’s pretty safe to say that there are a number of people who will be very happy to finally see this post.  With this said, I present to you my first Pirashki post!

The past three four weeks have been kinda busy around here and I might have also felt a bit burned out with all the cooking and driving back and forth to San Diego three weekends in a row.  A couple of days ago I decided to take the afternoon off and listen to a couple of food podcasts on my ipod while going through 3 very large cookbooks passed on to me by my friend Cathy.  My heart skipped a beat when I read the following article in the Culinaria: European Specialties volume 1

Pirogi: The Acid Test for the Housewife

The acid test for the Russian housewife is her ability to cook pirogi, lavish pastries which vary considerably in size. It is no accident that the pirog also plays an important role at weddings. Newlyweds in the country have to bake a pirog the day after their marriage, which they then offer to their guests with a glass of wine. Every guest is required to try the pirog, to sample the wine, convey their best wishes and to place a present of money on the tray. Often a kurnik is served at a Russian wedding, which is a large pirog with several fillings, although chicken is always used.

There are countless types of pirogi: open and closed ones, small and large, round and square, baked and fried, sweet and sour pirogi.  The most varied ingredients are used as fillings. A pirog is therefore always a secret — on the one hand because the pastry does not always turn out the same, and on the other because of the filling, which cannot be seen in an enclosed pirog. Russian housewives like to put their individual mark on pirogi, pricking small rows of holes in the pastry with a fork in a kind of code, so that the number of holes provides information about the filling.

The kulibiaka is a particularly large pirogi. It is a huge pastry which will more than fill ten people at the time. The classic recipe uses a stuffing of fish and rice, but a mushroom filling is also popular.

I personally found the information above very fascinating. I am always completely intrigued and fascinated with food stories such as this.

Now moving on to the recipe.  I decided to play it safe and use the recipe that Mahnaz Khanoom left in the comments section of the first post I wrote about Pirashki. So first and foremost a big thank you to Ms. Mahnaz for sharing her recipe with all of us!

Ingredients

1 pkg yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
1 cup yogurt
2 eggs
2-3 cups flour

Filling

1/2 lb ground beef
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup parsley
oil
salt & pepper


Combine warm water (100°) with sugar and mix well.  Add yeast and let stand for 5 minutes.


Add salt, oil, yogurt and eggs.


Mix them all well together.


Add 1 cup of flour at a time.  Add more flour if needed. Kneed for a few minutes. The dough should be smooth and not stick to your hand.  Cover and let rest for one hour.

I should add at this point that my dough came out pretty moist and I needed more flour.  I used yogurt that I bought from a regular grocery store which was on the liquid side and not firm like yogurt found at Persian stores.  I have a feeling this makes a big difference.

In the mean time, small dice onion and mince garlic.  Sauté in oil until translucent.  Add turmeric and let cook for about one more minute.

Add ground beef and season with salt and pepper.

Once the meat is browned, add tomato paste and small chopped parsley.  Mix well and cook uncovered until all the juices are absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

During the hour that the dough rested you will notice that it has rose a bit.

Divide up your dough in small even balls the size of a small orange.  I was able to get 9 out of mine.

Place each dough ball on your hand and carefully expand. Add a couple of tablespoons of the filling and wrap the dough around the filling making sure that there are no holes.  Place back on the cutting board seam side down.

Warm some vegetable oil in a pot and fry dough on both sides until golden brown.

As I was frying them away I had to do a quality control inspection.  Mighty good! I was very impressed with myself since this was my very first try.

3.5 Pirogi found a very happy place in my tummy. The rest the Sous Chef devoured before anyone else could get to them! I think he might have really liked them. But then again, one must give it to the Russian; seriously, how can one go wrong with dough stuffed with a delicious meat stuffing and then fried?

Piroshki Stuffed with Ground Beef

Ingredients

1 pkg yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
1 cup yogurt
2 eggs
2-3 cups flour

Filling

1/2 lb ground beef
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup parsley
oil
salt & pepper

Combine warm water (100°) with sugar and mix well.  Add yeast and let stand for 5 minutes. Add salt, oil, yogurt and eggs. Mix them all well together. Add 1 cup of flour at a time.  Add more flour if needed. Kneed for a few minutes. The dough should be smooth and not stick to your hand.  Cover and let rest for one hour.

In the mean time, small dice onion and mince garlic.  Sauté in oil until translucent.  Add turmeric and let cook for about one more minute. Add ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Once the meat is browned, add tomato paste and small chopped parsley.  Mix well and cook uncovered until all the juices are absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Divide up your dough in small even balls the size of a small orange. Place each dough ball on your hand and carefully expand. Add a couple of tablespoons of the filling and wrap the dough around the filling making sure that there are no holes.  Place back on the cutting board seam side down. Warm some vegetable oil in a pot and fry dough on both sides until golden brown.

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