Pirohy are the Slovak variation of “dumplings” made with an unleavened dough, wrapped around a savory or sweet filling, and cooked in boiling water. They can also be pan-fried before serving. You can find dumpling variations in nearly every culture: Russian vareniki, Italian ravioli, and Korean mandu. Recipes for dumplings also appeared in ancient Roman texts. However, the country where this food is most strongly associated is obviously China. In fact, historians think that the origin of dumplings goes as far back as the second imperial dynasty of China (206 BC to 220 AD) when a Chinese herbal doctor invented this recipe to feed and to heal people suffering from a very cold winter.
In Slovakia, you can find as many variations of recipes as there are regions. I grew up with Zemplinské pirohy, from the Michalovce region, where I used to spend my summer holidays as a child. These pirohy are filled with a curd cottage cheese and plum jam, topped with a brown butter. Another variety I often ate when visiting my maternal grandma, are Spišské pirohy, filled with bryndza, a typical Slovak sheep cheese, and potatoes, then topped with bacon, cream and chive. During my recent visits of my hometown Košice, my dad was pleased to have me try Tatarčané pirohy, made with buckwheat flour, typical of the Zemplin region where my dad is from.
For the video we made with Patricia from Sophisticated Slovak YouTube channel, I decided to cook the first variation, the one my paternal grandma used to prepare each time we would visit: with curd cottage cheese and plum jam.
For the dough: 500 g four, 250 ml milk (+ or -)
Filling: curd cottage cheese (250 g), powder sugar (50g), 1 egg yolk
Topping: 100 g butter
- Knead flour with milk until you get a fairly stiff mixture.
- Put a large pot full of salted water on the stove.
- Form the dough into a loaf and place on the dusted wooden or silicon board. Divide it into two smaller loafs and start with the first. Dust the top with flour to prevent the rolling pin from sticking. Roll out the dough to a 2 to 3 millimeters thick circle. Cut out squares (for ex. 6 cm x 6 cm) or use a cup to cut out rounds.
- Mix a cottage cheese with powder sugar (don’t use granulated one because it will make the filling more liquid), and add one egg yolk to it.
- Distribute this mixture in the middle of dough squares with a spoon. (When you will use the second loaf of dough, place a plum jam in the middle instead).
- Fold the squares over the filling and pitch the seal, starting from the middle to both sides to remove all unnecessary air.
- Drop the pirohy into boiling water (water should not bubble too strongly). Gently scoop them up with a wooden spoon to keep them from sticking to the bottom or together. Cook them for about 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, start browning your butter (or grill the bread crumbs, with butter and sugar).
- When pirohy float to the top, they will be ready. The time will vary depending on how thick you rolled out the dough. You can try one to determine if they need a few more minutes to cook. The best way to take them out is with a slotted spoon.
- Top with a brown butter.
Even though this recipe is made with sweet filling; it is served as a main course in Slovakia.
In this video, it was only the second time that I have made pirohy. The most important thing I learned is that even if it looks a little bit challenging, it is definitely still worth trying! It is a wonderful experience to prepare homemade pirohy!
You can use @KITNDO to share stores where you have found for example “tvaroh” (cottage cheese), thick plum jam or “Bryndza”, or their perfect substitutes. In some stores you may also find frozen pirohy (or Russian vareniki) that are convenient to have in the freezer for a quick meal! Here are my findings from the Southern France:
This Moldavian store has cottage cheese, bryndza and frozen pirohy, sweet and savory, that taste very good and have a thin dough.
And here I purchased a Slovak “polohruba” (half-coarse) flour together with some other products that have reminded me of Slovakia!
Shared by Martina Hornakova, founder of KITNDO