Nobody doesn’t like pirozhki (also known as pierogis in various Eastern European countries). My grandparents and parents grew up eating them and making them for my sister and I, and now we make them for our families. Got a picky eater in the family? Make them pirozhki! They are the perfect little food. A hot, crispy, doughy pocket filled with your choice of delectable (or just comforting) filling, a pirozhok (singular) is great for any occasion. You will see them served alongside a bowl of borsch on a dinner table, as an appetizer on their own, or even as a breakfast option – they are great warmed up in a toaster oven the next day!
Now, traditionally, these would be assembled with hand-made dough that rises over night. However, I do not have the luxury of that kind of time (and my husband is not a fan of the mess a hand-made dough makes all over the kitchen, which he then has to clean up). So, the perfect modern-woman solution for me has been – pre-made biscuit dough. It’s not only ready to use, but shaped in tidy little circles, which is the perfect shape for making pirozhki.
As I mentioned above, the choice of fillings is up to you, and really anything goes. My favorite (pictured here) is a slightly strange, but yummy, combination of chopped hard-boiled egg, scallions or green onions, and cooked long-grain white rice. It’s also Brian’s favorite, but it’s not necessarily the most popular one – the most popular and beloved is probably mashed potatoes with caramelized onions (that one may have arisen out of the need to find a creative use for leftover mashed potatoes). My late grandfather’s favorite filling was mashed peas. You can also use cooked ground beef with onions and spices (à la mini meat pie) And last but not least – sautéed cabbage (very Russian).
To make pirozhki, first make the filling. Here, I used:
2 finely chopped hard-boiled eggs
1 finely sliced stalk of green onion – white and green parts
1/2 cup of cooked long-grain white rice. (It HAS to be long-grain and not arborio or anything “mushy” – my favorite is Basmati rice).
salt and pepper to taste – about a teaspoon of each
Combine all of the above ingredients in a bowl and set aside (this amount of filling will make about 8-10 pirozhki).
Now start to heat up about a half-cup of your preferred cooking oil to medium-heat in a stainless steel pan/skillet. Grab a slice of biscuit dough and begin to flatten out with your fingers into a bigger, flatter circle (about 3 inches in diameter) that can hold a tablespoonful of filling.
Place about a tablespoon of the filling into the center and pinch together the edges of the dough until tightly sealed and no filling is sticking out.
The pirozhok will look first like a taco, then like this:
Do the same with the rest of the dough and filling. Your oil should be thoroughly heated by now, so you can begin placing the pirozhki gently into the pan, and they should sizzle a bit when they hit the oil. I usually start them seam-side down, so that it cooks first, and seals completely. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to add more oil so that the pirozhki are covered about half-way up. When the bottom side is golden-brown and crispy, turn them over, and repeat with the rest. (If your dough came out too thick and the inside hasn’t cooked through, place the browned pirozhki in the oven at 350F for just about 8-10 minutes).
If you are watching your oil intake or calories, you can also bake the pirozhki. After you have formed them, brush the tops with some whisked egg yolk to give them a nice golden, shiny finish, then bake according to the instructions on the biscuit dough container. I made them both ways, just for the purpose of this post, so here is the baked version:
My husband and I sampled both kinds and it’s a draw – the baked ones are more fluffy and doughy, while the fried ones are more crispy and flavorful – both are equally addictive. Do you have a favorite pirozhki filling? Share!