First, even if you don’t normally click on links in recipe posts, trust me – this will bring you a smile: meet the Buranovskiye Babushki, Russia’s entry and the second place winner in Eurovision 2012, which was held in Baku, Azerbaijan in May. I saw a little blip about their performance on German news, and that set me off searching to learn more about them. These grannies from the Udmurtia region of Russia are cute from the scarves on their heads to the bark booties on their feet. And don’t you wonder what it is they are baking?
Well, wonder no more! The grannies are making perepechi, a traditional Udmurt rye-crust tart filled with meat or vegetables, and they shared their recipe and baked some up to serve to the press in Baku. I needed just a bit more to go on than what one of the grannies described, and when I went hunting for recipes I had pretty good luck after I started searching in Google.ru and using the translate feature. I actually started writing this post right after I saw the grannies on the news, but I got busy finishing up the school year and left it sitting in my drafts folder. Then this week there was a photo and story in the New York Times about how the grannies’ fame has finally brought improvements to their rural village of Buranovo, and that reminded me: time to finish up the recipe, and here it is. Why don’t you make some perepechi and play the Babushki’s song while you eat them?
Perepechi with Meat and Mushrooms
Adapted from Gotovim.ru
- 2/3 cup plain yogurt
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- ½ cup wheat flour (I used spelt flour instead; all-purpose flour is fine)
- 1½ cups rye flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- A little milk, if needed
- ¼ onion, chopped
- ½ pound mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
- ¾ pound ground meat (I used all beef, but from my reading I think a mixture of lamb, pork, and/or beef seems to be more traditional)
- Fresh or dried thyme to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup milk
For the crust, combine the yogurt, egg, and melted butter. Stir together the flours, salt, and soda and add the dry ingredients to the yogurt mixture to form a fairly stiff dough (add a little milk if the dough is too dry). Form the dough into a ball, cover with a towel, and let it sit for half an hour while you are preparing the filling.
Cook the onions and mushrooms in a little butter or oil until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and brown the meat. Mix the onions and mushrooms back in and season to taste with thyme, salt, and pepper.
Heat the oven to 400 F.
Divide the dough into eight pieces. Roll each one out on a floured surface to a circle about six inches across. Lift up all around the edge and pinch at intervals to form “baskets” with a rim about ¾ of an inch high (see photo). Place the dough baskets on a baking sheet and fill them with the meat mixture.
Beat the egg and milk together with a little more salt. Pour the egg mixture over the meat mixture in each crust and immediately put them in the oven to bake (if you leave them sitting, the edges will fall). Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the filling is set and the crusts are done.
When I was reading perepechi recipes I saw several comments from other readers who said they like to make perepechi with cabbage. I thought that sounded good, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it until I came across a clip from a Russian television show. In the 4½ minute segment, a reporter journeys to Udmurtia and has a perepechi-making lesson from a group of local ladies (I don’t understand what they are saying, but it is worth watching to see the technique).
It looked easy enough, so I gave it a try (mmmmm!). All you have to do is substitute about 2 cups finely chopped cabbage for the meat filling and use two eggs and 2/3 cup milk seasoned with salt and pepper. I didn’t add any other seasoning, but I think some fresh dill would be nice. Somehow this time I made my dough a little too soft, and I had a feeling the rims wouldn’t stand up on their own. No problem, I made little foil collars to hold the edges up and that worked perfectly.
We ate the cabbage perepechi as a side dish, and the next day I warmed a couple up in the oven for lunch. I had some leftover roasted cherry tomatoes in the fridge and decided to put them on top before I put the perepechi in the oven, and they were even more delicious that way.
Leftover perepechi can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, and they are also fine reheated in the oven after freezing. I like the cabbage version best, but the meat perepechi are also very good. Do you need an excuse for a party for everybody? Boom, boom!