- Serves: Makes 30-40
- Cook Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
- Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes plus chilling and proving
- Effort: hard
- 1 kg shin beef, thickly sliced
- 1 large carrot, halved
- 1 onion
- 1 stick celery
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 2 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 50 g unsalted butter
- 4 large shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- black pepper
For the dough:
- 300 ml milk, at room temperature
- 300ml lukewarm water
- 50 g fresh yeast, or 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp dried yeast plus 2 tsp sugar, or 2 sachets easy-blend dried yeast
- 900 g strong bread flour
- 1 tsp salt
- beaten egg and milk
- borsch soup
- soured cream
1. First make the dough. Combine the milk and water in a bowl. Dissolve the fresh yeast in this liquid. If using dried yeast, dissolve the sugar in the liquid, then sprinkle in the dried yeast and set aside for 15 minutes until frothy. If using easy-blend yeast, add it directly to the flour.
2. Sieve the flour and salt, and easy-blend yeast if using, into a large mixing bowl. Pour the liquid into the centre. Stir to form a dough, then knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
3. Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
4. Meanwhile, put the beef in a large saucepan with all the vegetables, the bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of the caraway seeds and the peppercorns. Cover with cold water.
5. Slowly bring to the boil, skimming away any scum. Cover and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 2 hours until the meat is tender. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the meat to cool in the cooking liquor.
6. While the meat is cooling, heat the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and the remaining teaspoon of caraway seeds. Cover and gently fry for about 5 minutes until soft but not coloured. Stir in the caster sugar, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside.
7. Drain the meat, reserving the strained liquor for the Borsch Soup.
8. Remove the fat and sinew from the meat. Finely chop the meat, put it in a bowl with the cooked shallots and mix well.
9. Remove the dough from fridge. Roll out on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of 5-8mm. Trim the edges neatly.
10. Place small spoonfuls of the beef filling about 9cm apart along one edge of the dough. Fold the dough over the filling. Using a cutter or saucer as a guide, cut out a crescent shape around each spoonful of filling. Press the edges firmly together.
11. Roll out the dough again and repeat until you have used up all the dough and filling.
12. Place the pirags on non-stick baking sheets, spaced well apart. Cover loosely with cling film and leave in a warm draught-free place to prove for 20-30 minutes.
13. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6.
14. When the pirags have puffed slightly, gently brush each one with a little beaten egg and milk mixture to glaze.
15. Bake in the preheated oven for 5-10 minutes until golden. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool slightly.
16. Serve warm with the Borsch Soup and a bowl of soured cream to dipping.
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