In terms of cash saving Soviet era recipes, this Belyashi (Russian pan-fried pies) with lecho (pepper ragu) pair is one of the most satisfying and flavoursome we’ve tasted. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and make a large batch of lecho and preserve in jars; as later combining lecho with something as simple as mashed potato can make a fast and flavour-packed evening meal to please the entire family when the pies have run out. And they will quickly!

Belyashi are made with a fresh yeast dough and they’re shallow fried in sunflower oil. While they might not sound like the healthiest food choice on the planet, we think they make a well balanced meal when paired with sweet and aromatic lecho. Perfect for a Sunday lunch, get the family involved and enjoy the cooking process!

Belyashi – Russian Pan-fried Pies

Makes 8 pies

Filling

1 onion, finely chopped
250g beef mince
250g pork mince
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp Murray River salt flakes
Freshly cracked pepper to taste
1 tsp chopped mint
1 tsp chopped dill
1 tsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp mayonnaise

Method

1. Combine filling ingredients and mix well.

2. If the mixture is too dense, thin it by adding up to 75ml of water (about a quarter of a cup).

Note: Make filling the day before, if possible, for better flavour. If you are not leaving the mixture overnight don’t thin it down too much.

Dough & Pie Cooking Method

300ml milk
1 tsp sugar
7g active dry yeast
400g plain flour
2 tsp Murray River salt flakes
Sunflower oil for cooking

Method

1. Heat the milk in microwave or on the stove until slightly warm.

2. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let stand for 10 minutes until it becomes frothy.

3. In a medium bowl mix flour and salt, add the milk/yeast mixture and combine to form a sticky dough. Knead the dough for 10 minutes with your hands or in a mixer with a dough hook until it becomes elastic and no longer sticky.

4. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and then with a tea towel. Place in a warm place to prove until 2 ½ times the size. This should take from 1 ½ to 2 hours.

5. Punch down the dough, and knead briefly. Divide into 35g pieces.

6. Shape each piece into a ball, place on an oiled tray (with high sides) and cover with plastic wrap and tea towel. Prove for a further 35 minutes.

7. Roll each ball out into 8cm circles, place a heaped tablespoon of mixture in the centre of each circle and spread out, leaving a 2cm rim.

8. Shape the pie into your preferred shape – leaving a small opening (see hero pic).

9. On a medium to high stove, heat 2.5cm sunflower oil in frying pan. Put belyashi open side down into the oil and let cook until golden.

10. Flip and cook the bottom. Each side should take approx. 2 minutes.

11. Place fried belyashi on paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Serve with Russian Lecho

Russian Lecho (pepper ragu)
Russian Lecho (pepper ragu)

Russian Lecho

Makes 4-5 litres

Vegetable Mixture

2kg fresh tomatoes
1 green capsicum
1 yellow sweet chili
2 tsp salt
2-3 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic
4 large carrots (about 750g)
6 large red capsicums (about 800g)

Marinade

200ml water
300g sugar
100ml sunflower oil
1 tbsp virgin olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Vegetable Mixture Method

1. Blanch tomatoes for 10 minutes, remove from heat, drain water and peel skins.

2. Purée tomatoes in a food processor – you can do this in batches – then transfer purée to a large pot.

3. Roughly dice carrots into 1cm cubes.

4. Split capsicums and sweet chili from the base with a sharp knife, then remove core and seeds.

5. Cut capsicums and sweet chili into thin long strips.

6. Finely chop garlic.

7. Add all vegetable ingredients and bay leaves to the pot with tomatoes and bring to a simmer.

Marinade Method

1. In a separate pan combine water, sugar, oils and vinegar, and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar.

To Complete

2. Add the marinade to the vegetable mixture then simmer very gently for one hour, uncovered, until vegetables are tender.

3. Add salt to taste, stir and simmer a further 10 minutes. Allow to cool and refrigerate, or preserve in jars.



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