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iApprove: Pirozhki.

November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving is one of those things that seems to mean the same thing to everyone.  No matter where you live in the US, thoughts of Thanksgiving turn the mind to thoughts of roast turkey, bread stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.

Not so for our house.

Some years ago, my mother decided she was tired of making the same food every year for Thanksgiving.  Having been raised by a mother who supplied the family with a considerable variety of foods year-round, she found herself unsatisfied sitting down to the same “traditional” American meal each year.  So every year we do things a bit differently.  Some years we have turkey, some years ham, sometimes both.  And some years we have pirozhki.

I am referring to a traditional Russian food: deep-fried bread buns filled with meat, rice and other foods and seasonings.  My grandmother learned it from a Russian neighbor, and though she never knew exactly how to pronounce it (pereski became the normal term at our house), my mother loves to eat it.  Unfortunately, it’s a rather involved process, taking a lot of time and sweat to prepare enough for everyone, so we don’t eat them very often.

So what better time to have them than Thanksgiving?

Now, I realize that by now people already have their Thanksgiving menus planned; if I wanted to plan a countrywide pirozhki rebellion, I should have done it days ago.  But since it is a marvelous recipe, I decided to share it anyway.

It runs as follows:

(Filling)

2 lbs. ground beef

1/2 c. uncooked rice

1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped

Salt, pepper and garlic to taste

In small saucepan (ha, I love saying saucepan), bring 1 cup water to a boil.  Add rice, return to a boil, reduce heat and cover.  Continue cooking on a low boil until the water has soaked into the rice, about the same amount of time it’s going to take you to brown the meat.

Brown hamburger in large skillet.

While that’s going on, prepare your parsley.  Remove large stems – those tend to make a weird texture – and chop the remainder.  Set aside.

Once your meat and rice are done, combine in your skillet and allow to cook for a while longer.  Add parsley, stir.  There’s your filling.

(etc.)

1 batch bread dough, any

In medium or large saucepan (ha, said saucepan again), bring to a boil whatever kind of oil you prefer.  Remove a piece of bread dough about half the size of your fist (give or take) and flatten into a round shape (miniature pizza crust-esque) on a cutting board or plate.  Add filling, taking care not to overfill; overfilled pirozhki tend to burst open while cooking and make a terrible mess.  Finally, bring together the edges of your bread, starting in the middle and working your way toward either end (remove some filling if this is difficult).  Pinch together the edges of the bread until you have a completely encased pocket; fold over edge and pinch again.  Pinch away excess dough, taking care not to make any holes in your pirozhki.  Place in hot oil and cook until brown (preferably in a batch with other freshly-made pirozhki).

Repeat for the remainder of your material or until you have enough for everyone.

Around here, we like to eat them with ketchup.  They’re very tasty, but the filling also tends to make them a bit messy, so caution should be exercised when eating.

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