Food I Like: Pirogies

15Dec09

Back in October (the 8th to be exact) was the first National Pirogi Day. My son loves them and so I decided I wanted to make them instead of suffering with a premade frozen version. So we emailed my Aunt and Uncle for a possible recipe. I remember that when I was younger, any big family gathering that was held at their house included Pirogies made by my Uncle. (Both my Aunt and Uncle were really good cooks, but the Pirogies were always his thing.)

He got back to me with a cooking lesson on Pirogies: “Latvian Pirogies are made with a softer yeast bread dough that is filled with cooked bacon crumbles and baked like bread rolls in the oven.  This is a different dough and a different cooking process than Pirogies from other parts of Europe than might involve an unleavened dough and boiling as part of the preparation process.  They are very different from the store bought ones. The bread is not intended to be particularly chewy (like an Italian or French bread) but it is not a sweet, crumbly pastry dough either.  The egg is the ingredient that will reduce the chewiness properties (but will also tend to make the dough a bit stickier than a straight, conventional bread dough). The filling that my grandmother used was just finely diced, cooked bacon.  She would dice it and flash fry it in a hot pan until the bacon white clarifies and begins to shed fat.  The bacon needs to be cooked, but you want it ‘juicy’, not dry, when it goes into the circles.”

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons of dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound bacon, chopped and cooked

Mix all the ingredients except the bacon together and adjust the consistency as you mix it to get a relatively non-sticky, firm bread dough by either adding small amounts of water or flour. Mix/knead until smooth and somewhat elastic and not too sticky then let rise (an hour – maybe 90 minutes). After rising knock down the dough and roll it out to about 1/4″ thickness.  If it is too elastic at this point, and tends to pull back too much to roll out easily, let it sit for 10 minutes and then roll it.

When it is rolled out, cut out 3” circles from the dough sheet with a mason jar or water glass or whatever.  Put a tablespoon or so of filling in the center of each circle and then pinch the edges to seal them and then fold/roll them into football shapes. When you put the filling in you want to make sure not to get bacon or bacon grease on the edges you are going to pinch together since that will keep the bread from sealing itself and the bacon juices will leak out while you are cooking.  You get the football shape by taking the pinched together half circle that contains the filling and sort of folding in the “points” and putting the Pirogi on the baking sheet with the pinching seam down – the top of the Pirogi is the smooth part that was the original fold line. Let rise for about 30 minutes on their baking sheet brush with egg whites and water if you want a shiny surface. Bake at 400 until they look done.

When I got done assembling these for National Pirogi Day I turned on the oven and discovered it was broken! Our big plans for the evening were shot. The assembled Pirogies went into the freezer for a couple weeks until the oven was repaired. When I pulled them out, I just let them thaw and put them in the oven. They came out just fine. I plan to try this again soon when I can bake them fresh.

I made some with bacon and some with mashed potatoes (my son is a potato freak). I also put sautéed onions in about half of each. Next time we’ll probably use some Cheddar cheese in them and I might even try some “dessert” style with cinnamon apples.

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