It’s time for my version of Russian piroshki, which I introduced to you on Wednesday’s visit to the Aragosta restaurant in St. Petersburg. While the Aragosta version of piroshki may be truer to the traditional, both Ursula and I think this recipe gives a superior tasting dish.
This is based on a recipe I’ve been making since my mid-teens. I picked it up from one of my mother’s cookbooks, and to this day I still recall how to make it from memory, with some personalization over the years and along the way. But today I’m writing it all down just for you. And best of all, this one is actually easier than the traditional, single-serving piroshkis, as it makes one large meat pie that’s easily cut into individual servings. So, here goes:
- 1 stick of butter (4 oz.), room temperature
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 pound sour cream (I use light), room temperature
- 2 tsp. salt
- 5 to 5½ cups flour
Meat filling Ingredients:
- 3 to 4 pounds lean ground beef
- 1½ tsp. granulated garlic (or several cloves of minced fresh garlic)
- 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
- Olive oil (for browning onion and meat)
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Condensed cream of mushroom soup with roasted garlic
- In a large mixing bowl, mash with a fork the softened butter. Mix in the room temperature egg, sour cream, and salt and stir together until the butter is in small, curd-like pieces.
- Stir in flour one cup at a time, fully incorporating the flour into the mixture with each addition.
- Don’t fear overworking this dough, as piroshki should not be your typical ‘flaky’ crust. It should have a smooth, almost clay-like consistency that, after baking, has a chewiness to it. If after the fifth cup of flour the dough still seems moist and slack, work in another half cup of so.
- In a large Dutch oven or skillet, heat up some olive oil and sauté the finely chopped yellow onion until starting to brown.
- Add the ground beef and cook thoroughly. Season with granulated (or fresh) garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
Assembly Step 1:
- Preheat oven to 357° F/190° C.
- Roll out the dough. You want a relatively thick crust, so don’t overdo it.
- You want the final dough to extend far beyond the edges of your baking sheet, but using the measurements above you’ll have plenty with which to work. You’ll need this overlap later to fold over the filling.
Assembly Step 2:
- Place the rolled out in a large baking sheet.
- Pour it the meat filling.
- Fold the dough over the filling, first by folding in the ends
- And then overlapping with the sides.
- Make several large vent holes in the top of the crust. Place the piroshki in the oven, and start making the gravy (see next).
Gravy: In a sauce pan combine the condensed cream of mushroom soup with milk, using a ratio of ½ can of milk for each can of soup (two cans will make a lot of gravy, so you may want to start with one first, then make more later for the leftovers). Heat to a simmer while stirring, switch off, cover, and plan to reheat just before the piroshki comes out of the oven.
Assembly Step 3:
- When the crust nicely browned, around 40 minutes or so, your piroshki is done. Remove it from the oven and let it sit for about five minutes while you reheat the gravy.
- Plate serving-sized portions and cover with a generous amount of gravy. Enjoy.
Now for a wine pairing: Piroshki is a hearty, meaty dish with a robust, earthy mushroom gravy. A creamy mushroom soup is usually paired with an oaky chardonnay, but here the mushroom is served as a condiment. Then there’s that wonderful, chewy crust made with sour cream, which seems to me to be a tough pairing, but I’m leaning once again toward chardonnay. However, it’s the seasoned beef filling that drives today’s choice. So, while a good compromise between these three flavors might normally be a pinot noir and would probably work very well, I’m going to bit bolder. With that in mind, I’m going to recommend in order of preference:
- A California Zinfandel
- Cabernet Franc
- An Argentine Malbec
A word about next week: This past Sunday I reran my Memorial Day article, but next Thursday is worthy of yet another commemoration. As such, I’ll be temporarily postponing a continuation of this series on the Baltic region. Instead, all next week starting Sunday I’ll be rerunning my six-part series on the D-Day Invasion of Normandy in recognition of the fact that next Thursday, the 6th of June, marks the 75th anniversary of this epic event.