Authentic Russian pirogi

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I first tasted pirogi (perogie) when I was on a volunteer vacation in Russia couple of years ago. The lady who cooked for us at the volunteer home in Yaroslavl made this authentic Russian bread stuffed with mushrooms. Being a fan of both breads and mushrooms, this was one of my favorite dishes in Russian cuisine.

No wonder then when my house guest, Marsha from Russia asked me if I would like for her to cook something traditional for me, I asked her for pirogis. We planned for an entire evening of cooking (making pirogi is easy but time consuming). Since we were going to a farewell dinner for the GCIV hosts and delegates the following day, we decided to make two kinds – one stuffed with mushrooms and onions, and the other stuffed with cabbage and boiled eggs (like it is done traditionally).

Here is the basic recipe for one pan of dough: In a stand mixer, combine .5 liter of milk, 8 cups of flour (one cup at a time), 2 eggs and 250 grams butter until well blended. Add 40 grams wet yeast, 2 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt and leave paddle on medium setting until a thick dough is formed.

Add more flour if needed. This will take a few minutes. Once the dough is not sticking to the sides of the mixer, transfer to another bowl and allow to rise for an hour.

In the meantime, prepare the filling. Boil 4 eggs. Finely chop 1 medium onion and shred 1/2 green cabbage. Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in a large wok on medium heat. Add the onion and cabbage and let it sweat for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Finely chop the boiled eggs and add to the cabbage mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep aside.

Heat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 12×16 cookie sheet. Divide the prepared dough into two. Flour a flat surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough till it fits a cookie sheet. Fit it directly onto the sheet.

Spread the filling mixture evenly onto it. Top with remaining rolled out dough to form a blanket covering the filling. Use the left over dough to make the decoration.

Roll out thin long strings of dough with your fingers and create a criss-cross pattern on the pie. Beat one egg yolk and baste the top of the dough lightly with a brush. Bake in oven for one hour or until golden brown.

We also added a 5 Ruble coin into the pie. It is believed that whoever gets the piece with the money will have his/her wish granted. It happened so that Marsha got it (among the 20 people at dinner) and her wish is to return to US very soon!

While we drank wine and nibbled on snacks, we got our hands into pounds of dough. The final result was three pans of pirogis – much more than we anticipated. So we decided to make a breakfast type as well  – topped with sliced bananas and apples, sprinkled with sugar and baked till crispy.

Everyone at the party loved the pirogis. The Russian delegates were very excited to get a taste of home during their visit!

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Sucheta Rawal

Sucheta is an award winning food and travel writer, who has traveled to 70+ countries across 6 continents. She is also the founder and editor of 'Go Eat Give' and author of 'Beato Goes To' series of children's books on travel.