Sunday, November 25, 2012

Russian Pirozhki - With Meat and Kapusta (Cabbage)

Pirozhki are the Russian pastries that often can be found inside the Russian baza stores, especially on Brighton Beach Avenue here in NYC. Its a classic Russian "fast food" snack that was popular for many Soviet years, and even these days pirozhki are very popular among the Russian consumers. Generally there are 3 types of pirozhki: deep-fried or as I like to call them Sovietskiyi (Soviet) or Stolovyyi (cafeteria or lunchroom style), triangular-shaped fillo dough ones or as Russians call them Sloyoniyi (layered) and the 3rd type is "fried" or as I like to call them homestyle. Pirozhki are made with savory and with sweet fillings. Some popular savory filling are meat [chicken, beef and pork], cabbage, pea paste, mashed potatoes and mushrooms eggs & onions. Sweet fillings generally include preserves and jams, which popular flavors include apples, cherry, apricots and sometimes [rarely] strawberries. Sweet filling pirozhki also maybe topped with some powdered sugar, but only of handful of Russian stores in NYC sell them this way. Russian stores that make sweet filling pirozhki most likely use commercial type of fillings that come in 5-gallon pails that most of the bakeries use, and could include jelly fillings. The pirozhki that I have here on hand are of the cafeteria style. I call them cafeteria or Soviet style because this type of pirozhki were widely available in all kinds of cafeterias during the Soviet and early post-Soviet times. I remember this type of pirozhki from kindergarden and from the school's cafeteria in Kiev. They were also available in many cafeterias and at some gastronoms (marts) in Kiev. On were also available in a couple locations on the Kreschiatik street, where Russian grannies would sell them from the wooden boxes. These Soviet style pirozhki are best in my opinion because they are deep-fried and hence soaked in oil, which make them not as dry as the fillo dough ones and the homestyle/fried [on the pan] ones. Soviet style pirozhki taste best pretty much as soon as they are done, given that they cool-off for some minutes, but they also hold the taste properties for hours, can be kept refrigerated for a day or two, and can be easily and quickly reheated inside a microwave or a gas oven, while retaining their awesome taste properties. Fillo dough type of pirozhki are drier and crumsier type of pirozhki, but most of the people prefer them with sweet filling instead of savory ones. After a day or two, the fillo dough hardens-up and does not taste very well. Fillo dough pirozhki are also disbalanced towards the corners due to the filling that is concentrated inside the center of the pirozhok. The 3rd, homemade style of pirozhki are pretty much made on the frying pan, which is fried on top and bottom in a thin layer of oil. This type of pirozhok turns bad [flat and dry] after 3-4 hours of its making. Homemade pirozhki are frequently made small and are sold per pound, but sometimes they are also made in about the same size as the deep-fried ones. I call these homemade because this is how most Russian people make pirozhki at home: on a frying pan. One pirozhok can be bought on Brighton Beach Avenue in several street and store locations for $1.25, but some store may price it for $1.50. When I went to the Kingsborough Community College, I used to eat a lot of the Soviet style pirozhki on Brighton Beach Avenue, because the transfer bus stop was there on the way home, so it made sense for me to grab a couple and glass bottle of soda as an affordable snack [compared to overpriced college cafeteria foods], and during this time, the pirozhki were priced at $0.75-$1.00. I also call all 3 types of pirozhki as "Russian Hot Pockets".

First pirozhok.

Inside of it there's kapusta (cabbage) stuffing. The cabbage is kinda stewed with pieces of carrots and there is also some ground pepper that can be see in the mix.

Second pirozhok.

It has meat stuffing inside. Its ground chicken meat mixed with onions and some spices [probably ground pepper and salt].

By the way, the best drink with a meat pirozhok is cold Coca-Cola in my opinion.

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