Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Beef Pirozhki – Russia, Russia, Russia!

Like most well informed, non-crazy Americans, I’m waiting for Russia to get their just desserts for interfering with our democracy; but, before we get to dessert, we need to have dinner, and that’s where these delicious beef pirozhki come in.

While not necessarily easy to make, the dough and filling are pretty simple, and the results well worth the trouble. Literally any filling will work here, but I was going for a very specific style of pirozhki, which I’ll describe as “mid-eighties, liquor store deli.” Allow me to explain.

I once worked as a bike messenger for like two days. After realizing how grueling it was, especially in hilly San Francisco, I spent my life savings ($120) to buy a friend’s scooter, which extended my career by a full 6 months. The money wasn’t great, and so for lunch I’d get a beef pirozhki from one of those sketchy delis you sometimes see in the back of big city corner stores.

They only cost two bucks, delivered a ridiculously high number of calories, and even though I knew it wasn’t the healthiest thing to eat, I grew to love the taste. So, when I decided to film this, I set out to get as close to that experience as possible. It took a few tries, but I ended up with something very similar. The only major difference is that I know for sure what meat was used.

Since you’re not trying to recapture a taste from your past, feel free to add more cheese to the filling, which will not only taste good, but also make the crumbly filling easier to work with. But, no matter what you stuff these with, I really do hope you give them a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 15 Pirozhki, depending on the size:

For the beef filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, finely diced
2 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried dill

1/3 cup chicken broth or water to deglaze
1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, optional
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, optional

For the dough:
1 scant cup warm milk (just under a cup of milk heated to about 100 F.)
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons melted butter
about 3 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed

NOTE: I’m not sure the amount of filling will match the amount of dough, but if you have extra of either, both can be frozen until next time.


Unknown said...

Hey chef! Love the videos. Could you bake these instead of fry?

Hope said...

Looks similar to bierocks, my German grandmother made. Bierocks have cabbage in them and are bit fried, or at least now how I learned. And bierocks, is probably an Americanized name for them, but can't remember the German name. I will give these a try though Chef John.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I have had these growing up. The ones I had were filled with sauerkraut. Those do look amazing.

Unknown said...

Can these be made a day ahead then deep fried next day or cooked day before and reheated? Like to make for friends/family when they visit but don't want to have kitchen a mess when they arrive. Thanks!

Unknown said...

My Grandma made these all the time when I was growing up. She also made potato pirozkhi and cabbage! Thanks for recreating this!

Wondering, have you ever made lamajun? The Turkish flatbread style “street pizza” with ground lamb/beef/herb topping??

Unknown said...

1/3 cup chicken broth or water to deglaze

fultonphishmonger said...

you're almost right, but it was invented by Pontian Greeks, from the glack sea region of russia

Unknown said...

I have never understood using chicken broth on beef. Why is that?

Unknown said...

Hi Chef John. I would love to try these but I'm not a fan of frying stuff in my small apartment. Could these be bakes instead? If so, for what temp and how long.


Frankdatank said...

I can't help but hear some commonality between bierock and pierog which is then close to piroshki.
Chef John, I'm begging you to help me. San Francisco. Early '80's. Pavel's House of piroshki. He did "meat" and "mushroom" piroshki.
I've been able to come close to his meat recipe, and yours seems even closer. However, the mushroom filling has faded in my memory. It seems I remember some kind of noodle in with the mushroom filling, perhaps they were glass noodles? And how would that have been prepared? If anyone cares to help you may email me. Fvoytilla@sbcglobal.net

Anonymous said...

First: not pi-ROSH-ki but pi-rosh-KI. Second, as Chef John said tons of fillings, so my mom used beef, cabbage, mushroom, rice and salmon fillings; a place in Seattle's Pike Place (?) founded by an Estonian-born ethnic Russian has lots of different fillings for big calzone-like piroshki. Third, yes, the most common form of piroshki are baked, not fried nor deep-fried. And finally, thanks to Chef John's invention of a quick and easy beef filling, we might have found an excuse to make them - my mom's recipe required boiling bone-in chuck with carrots, onions and marrow bones, putting the beef through a meat grinder just to prep for making piroshki. However, to see if it's a good substitute, instead of cheese, we'll be using the hard-boiled eggs called for by my mom's recipe.

Anonymous said...

Oh, forgot - re: baked: the dough used for baked piroshki is similar to pie dough.

ericrules42 said...

My wife has been searching for a recipe for these for years! Thank you Chef John, you are my culinary hero. BTW,She used to get hers from a local liquor store in Kenwood, Ca.

Unknown said...

LOOOVE the twist on your classic word play in this video!! I won't mention it in case anyone is reading comments before watching but I spit coffee on my computer screen

stitchers said...

one recipe my family has, uses sauerkraut along with the beef and a little bit of brown sugar and a piece of bacon for flavouring.

mamafrog said...

It would be nice if these recipes were easier to find on All recipes. I don't want to fool with going back and forth to a video when I'm trying out a new recipe. And not all of us can wing a recipe's instructions when they aren't given.

Unknown said...

You're the Vladimir of what to Putin... priceless!!

Food Junkie said...

Kevin these can totally be baked but expect a little less even browning and probably a little different bun texture. Brush with an egg wash and bake for 30 minutes at 350 or until browned and done to your satisfaction. Baking time depends on the size of your pirozhki.

Lisa S said...

Our version, which is a Mennonite adaptation, uses a quart of milk, a pound of butter, three cakes of yeast and five pounds of flour for the dough. The filling is five pounds of stew beef cooked and ground and ten pounds of finely shredded cabbage. We bake ours and use the leftover dough trimmings to make zwieback which is a bun made from two little knobs of dough.

That was the recipe my great grandmother from Ukraine taught my mother. The yield is about 5 dozen hand sized pirozkhi and a couple dozen zwieback.

Unknown said...

the German word is Bierock (plural Bieröcke).

Unknown said...

Kevin, yes you can bake these, i just did it.
Before baking just brush with little whisped egg(whole egg).
Bake 180c -200c ca 25-30 min.
After baking cover with wet towel for 30 min.

Unknown said...

Hi, Chef John! As a Russian I was delighted to see this video. We also make pirozhki with chopped spring onion and boiled eggs. Higly recommend to try them too)

Unknown said...

@Hope -- Bierocks IS the German name, and they're made with bread dough and baked in the oven.

Ratty said...

I made these. My experience:
1. The filling was really really good. You have to be patient and let all the liquid evaporate then keep browning until the meat really darkens. What an intense flavor. I couldn't taste the dill but mine was several years old. I'll buy more at the supermarket next time. I added more than 1/3 cup chicken stock but it was a tad dry still. When I use the rest of the filling I'll add a couple splashes more.
2. The filling was amazing until I added the freshly grated reggiano. For some reason it wasn't quite as good after that. I definitely added more than 2 Tbsp so that one was my fault.
3. I'm terrified of deep frying but I gave it a go. I did them a bit too much - they were slightly crispy. Next time I won't fry them as much and get more of a doughnut texture.
4. I got the hang of filling them pretty quickly. The tip about going up 1/3 of the way on each side was very good. My first ones were enormous. They fried up OK but I think the smaller ones work much better.
5. I was struck by how bland the dough was. I took a bite of blandness and waited a bit for the flavor of the filling to appear.
6. I have lots of filling left over so I made some more dough with cold milk, half the yeast, added a touch more salt, and put it in the fridge for a slow rise for a couple of days.

Since I blew my diet on the first attempt, I'm going use up the rest of the filling and my slow rise dough then freeze them.

Scout said...

ha ha! Love the hysterical mainstream media heading for this recipe!
Russia Russia Russia!

Great salad, too! THX

Cassandra said...

I was taught to make these by a sweet little Russian woman who is the ex-mother-in-law of a friend of mine. The difference is that we make crepes and wrap the meat in the crepes and fry those like little burritos in a bit of oil. Your recipe for the meat is the best I've ever made them, and I'll be making them this way from here on out. By the way, I use the same crepes to make my manicotti. I'd love to see a video redo of these with crepes, or a manicotti using crepes. Love your videos and your recipes. Thanks!

Thomas Hughes said...

To reduce/remove the "crumbly" issue, might you try to cook the meat already formed? Form little "rectoval" (HAHA!) patties, and then insert them into the dough. Plus, the "crumbly" won't fall all over the place as you eat them ... just a thought.

Rose said...

I tried this out for dinner tonight and it was amazing. I baked instead of frying and I used just some queso fresco, since that is what my sister keeps on had. She was eating it before it even hit the table. The dough came out perfectly!

Nite Loon said...

So close to what i grew up with. Kraut Burgers, grand parents were German.Only it was a mixture of cabbage and hamburger with salt and pepper. Baked insted of fried

nicsky said...

These are my absolute favourite. I know that they can be frozen and microwaved when desired and they come out light a fluffy. See great book"please to the table"this book never disappoints!

Jędrzej said...

Wow, just finished making these. Quite an adventure, I'm still a bit jittery when working with doughs and pastry in general. But these beauties turned out great! Only thing is that I didn't know this amount is supposed to feed an infantry platoon, and with some meat leftover. For sure I will repeat this sometime in the future.

Cindy said...

Funny thing about Pirozhki - I also had my first and only purchased one in SF by the fishing dock (?) in a small restaurant and loved it so much that after I moved to a place where cornbread and beans was gourmet eating, I searched the local library for a recipe(1978,pre-internet). I did find one and cooked a batch up. Part with meat filling and part with cabbage filling (might have been potato in the meat one) and everyone loved it. It's a lot of work though, so I'm anxious to try your recipe. Looks a bit easier, if I remember. So, thanks!