Silvija For Her Infinite Fine Qualities, But Especially, Her Piragi
Peters grew up calling them mostly "speķa
raui," while Silvija grew up calling them mostly "pīrāgi",
their more familiar name.
Wheat flour, 500 grams
Butter, 75 grams
Potatoes, 100 grams
Salt, "one tip of a
Smoked bacon, 250 grams
Pepper, "one tip of a knife"
Caraway, 1/2 teaspoon
tip of a knife"
Heat the milk, butter, and salt to 30
degrees C (86° F). Into the mix blend yeast [who knows how much? use fresh
if available] and sifted wheat flour, forming the dough, during the kneading of
which add boiled diced/minced potatoes. Take the well-kneaded dough and let it
rise in a warm place, press it back into the bowl, let it rise again, then
separate into about 20 equal pieces. Flatten each piece of dough, put about one
tablespoon of filling into the middle, press the edges together and place it on
a greased pan with the seam on the bottom, formed into the shape of a crescent
moon. Let them rise again on the pan, coat with a half-beaten egg (or not), and
cook in a really hot (literally, "powerful") oven for about 10 minutes.
Eat hot or cold.
For the filling, cut the bacon into
small cubes, then add diced onion, pepper, sugar, and caraway according to
taste. If you wish, you can lightly brown the bacon with the onion.
Latvian original, from page 24 of The
Latvian and Modern Kitchen
1 1/2 cups milk (I use 2%,
but the Latvians in Latvia would cringe!)
1 1/2 stick butter (or
margarine for the cholesterol conscious)
3 tsps salt
3 tbsps sugar
3 packages rapid rise yeast
6 cups flour (I hope this is right....I
do the flour by feel)
3 lbs bacon (I use the 40% less fat
variety, again, Latvians in Latvia would cringe, but then the piragi you
eat over there are filled with what they call bacon, and what I call pure
3 pretty big, but not huge, onions (how's that for exact
1 1/2 lbs lean sliced ham
fresh ground pepper, to
I always make the filling ahead of time
so that it has time to chill in the fridge, this makes it much easier to work
with when you're forming your piragi.
To make the filling: Dice the
bacon and onions. Start cooking the bacon in a large non-stick pan, after it's
good and hot, add the onion. Stir often and cook until the onions are pretty
much cooked to death, but neither the bacon nor the onion should be brown.
Drain in a colander (I actually give it a little rinse and then blot with paper
towels; I keep trying to tell people you can make Latvian dishes without
every bite dripping with fat!) Dice the ham and stir it into the bacon/onion
mixture, then refrigerate
The dough (getting this right
decides the success of your piragi...no pressure!): In a small saucepan
heat the milk, butter, salt and sugar just until the butter melts. Remove from
heat, pour into a large bowl, let cool for about 5 min. With a wire whisk, stir
in the egg and yeast until the yeast is well blended. Add 1/2 the flour, again
stir till well blended. Cover with a towel and allow to rise 1/2 hour. Add
remaining flour, knead well (I use my hands, or Peters' when he's around, but
you can cheat and use your Kitchen Aid dough hook if you must!) You might need
to add a little more flour and knead until the dough no longer sticks to your
fingers. Place the dough on a flat surface, cover with the bowl, throw a towel
on top, and allow to rise 1 hour. Then you're ready to form them, the fun part,
Cut the dough into about one inch
squares. With each one, roll or pat flat, into a circle, and fill each with a
very rounded (very, very) teaspoon of filling (don't be shy
here!).** Fold the dough over to cover the filling, squeeze the edges shut.
They should be somewhat in the shape of a crescent. Place on a cookie sheet
sprayed with cooking spray, seamed side down. After all are formed, make
egg-wash (beat one egg with about 1/4 cup water). Using a pastry brush, brush
egg-wash over the piragi (this gives them their shiny glaze).
Bake at 400 degrees, about 15-20
minutes, until golden brown. I mist them gently with water right when they come
out of the oven so they stay moist. Enjoy!
Peters' take... Piragi are the Latvian woman's secret
weapon. None can withstand their delightful onslaught!
**I should mention that Latvians complimenting Silvija's piragi always exclaim,
"Oh! So much meat!"