Piroške are baked or fried stuffed buns. Originating in Russia, this delicious snack found its way to most of eastern and central Europe. In the western Balkans, including Serbia, piroške are usually shaped like logs and stuffed with cheese, ground meat, or sometimes both. My mother would often make them for breakfast or dinner. According to most Balkan moms, piroške are not considered appropriate for lunch, the most elaborate and ceremonious meal of the day, because they are almost embarrassingly easy to make!
For the dough
4 1/2 cups (585 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds (680 g) feta, crumbled
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
For the filling
10 to 12 slices ham (or prosciutto)
10 to 12 sticks mozzarella string cheese
Good-quality ketchup and pickles
For the dough
In a food processor, combine the flour, feta, eggs, olive oil, sugar, and baking powder and blend until a smooth and soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and knead briefly until it comes together in a ball. Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl, cover with an inverted plate, and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours.
For the filling
Wrap the ham around the mozzarella sticks and set aside.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a floured work sur- face, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a large rectangle, about 1⁄4 inch (0.5 cm) thick. Cut into 10 to 12 (4 x 6-inch / 10 x 15-cm) rectangles. Arrange a ham-wrapped mozzarella stick on the longer side of each rect- angle then roll them up, sealing the edges well with a little bit of water. Roll gently on the floured work sur- face to shape into logs—they should look something like corn dogs.
Transfer the filled dough logs to a baking sheet or plate, cover with a kitchen towel, and chill for 1 to 4 hours. At this point you could also freeze the piroške for future use—freeze them in a single layer, then transfer to a resealable bag.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 4 to 5 inches (10 to 12.5 cm) of canola oil to 325°F (160°C). Working in batches, gently add a couple piroške to the hot oil and fry, turning with a spoon to prevent cracks and ensure even browning, for 5 to 6 minutes or until the dough is cooked through and golden brown—some surface cracks may appear. If the dough is cooked, but the cheese is not melted, pop the piroške in a 325°F (160°F) oven for few minutes. Repeat to fry the remaining piroške and serve hot with ketchup and pickles.
More about A Place at the Table: The book is produced in collaboration with the Vilcek Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness of immigrant contributions in America and fostering appreciation of the arts and sciences. The publication of the book follows the Vilcek Foundation's prestigious 2019 chef awards this spring, which only happen every 5 years. The winner of the Vilcek Prize in Culinary Arts this year was just announced and it was Marcus Samuelsson.
Recipe excerpted from A Place at the Table: New American Recipes from the Nation's Top Foreign-Born Chefs (Prestel, Sept 24, 2019, $40/hardcover) by Gabrielle Langholtz, Rick Kinsel.
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