PiroskiFeb 19th, 2013 | By Peter Minakis | Category: Dough, Featured, Flour, Frying, Greek, Herbs, How To, Lent, Meze, Olive Oil, Onions, Pontian, Potato, Snacks, Vegetarian, Yeast
There are about 11 million Greeks in today’s Greece and about another 11 million throughout the rest of the world. Greeks have long traveled beyond familiar land and have made their new beginnings in far off lands.
Eons ago, Greeks had settlements in Egypt, as far west as southern France and as far east as India when Alexander the Great traversed and conquered and Greeks co-habitated with locals.
Greeks, for ages, lived beyond the borders of today’s Greece and some the oldest Greek settlements were in Asia Minor. Of particular notice today are the Pontian Greeks who lived in Pontos or around the Black Sea. Earliest mention of Greeks in the Black Sea region is from Greek mythology when Jason and the Argonauts traveled here in search of the Golden Fleece.
Political upheavels between Turkey and Greece caused large populations of Greek and Turks to be expelled from respective territories. Greece saw an influx of Asian Minor Greeks from Smyrni, Constantinople and the Turkish interior and of course, Pontians from around the Black Sea.
Like any refugee, you’re forced to leave your life behind, unable to think about what belongings to bring with you and most people simply came with their memories and local customs and dialects with them. Pontian Greeks have resettled throughout Greece but the majority live in Athens, Thessaloniki and in towns throughout the province of Macedonia.
Although my family is not Pontian we do have many family members (through marriage) that are Pontians and of course, many friends. This recipe comes courtesy of one my mother’s best friends, kuria (Mrs.) Eleni Abatzoglou, who shared her recipe for Pontiaka Piroski.
Piroski are fried dough with an array of filling from potato, to cheese and to meet. They are easy to make and through the miracle of fried dough – they are addictive and dangerous to have laying about as you just can’t get enough of them!
Pontiaka Piroski (Ποντιακα Πιροσκι)
For the dough
1 1/2 cups tepid water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. fine seat salt
3 1/4-3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 large potatoes, skins on (Yukon Gold or other yellow potato)
2 medium onions, finely diced
4 scallions, sliced
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for frying
- In bowl or stand mixer, add the tepid water, olive oil, sugar and allow the yeast some time to activate, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and flour in increments as you knead-in or mix. Add flour until the dough is smooth and not too sticky. Drizzle with olive oil, cover and place in bowl. Allow the dough to rise to at least double. (couple of hours).
- In the meantime, place your potatoes in a pot and fill with water and season with salt. Bring up to a boil and cook until just fork tender. Once they have cooled enough to handle, peel the skins off with the back of a knife and use a fork to coarsely mash the potatoes or use a potato ricer. Reserve in a bowl and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, add your olive oil into a skillet over medium heat and add the onions and scallions along with a sprinkle of salt. Sweat the onions for about 12-15 minutes and allow the onions to caramelize for 3-5 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
- Add cooled onions to the bowl with potatoes, salt and pepper and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula. Taste, adjust seasoning and reserve.
- When your dough is ready, uncover and dab your fingers in some oil. Grab a piece of dough about the size of a large walnut and flatten the dough in your palm or then place on a lightly floured work surface and continue to flatten and spread the dough until it opens up to the size of tea/coffee saucer.
- Place a heaping tablespoon of the potato filling and place in the middle of the dough. Fold the the dough over to envelope the filling and form a half-moon shape. Pinch the edges with your finger (or fork) to seal and gently pat-down on the filling so it spreads evenly inside the dough (and remove air pockets). Repeat and form your remaining Piroski. Allow the dough to rest 15 minutes.
- Place a large heavy Dutch oven on your stovetop and add about 3 inches of olive oil the pot. Bring up to a temperature of 365F and fry your Piroski in batches ( flip to evenly fry both sides) until just golden (the filling is already cooked). Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool on a rack. Repeat and fry the remaining Piroski.
- Serve warm or room temperature as a snack or meze. Try them with a dollop of strained Greek yogurt.
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© 2013, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.