Russian Meat Pie

I'm giving instructions for making this as 1 large pie, but I actually made one medium pie (for my mother and I) and a couple of individual pies (for Mr. Ferdzy). This will all make sense when I also tell you that the medium pie was made with chopped lamb liver (could have use beef, or chicken for that matter) and the smaller ones had regular ground beef in them. The kind of meat you use in these is really very flexible; it just has to be chopped up fairly finely. 

This is another relative of the Russian pies made with some combination of yogurt/sour cream/mayonnaise, and no complaints here. It was lovely. 

As with the meat, the herbs can be changed around. If there's anything that's immutable, I'd say that lots of onions are required. 

It feels strange publishing a Russian recipe at the moment, but let's try to remember that people are not their nation's politics. I'd like to share a story I heard of a woman in our town, a friend of my mother-in-law's. She used to go around and share her history with high-school students. She came from Poland (I think), and was a teenager during WWII. When the Russians came in from the east, she was on the road as a refugee. She was seized by a band of Russian soldiers, raped, and left to die in a snow-bank. A little while later another band of Russian soldiers came along, who pulled her out and gave her medical treatment and took care of her until she could get to a better situation. 

Let's remember that every society has its smashers and its menders. Let us be on the side of the menders and support them wherever we can find them.
 
8 servings
1 hour 30 minutes - 45 minutes prep time
 
Russian Meat Pie
 
Make the Pastry:
1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup thick yogurt
 
Mix the spelt flour with the salt and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Grate in the butter, pausing to dust the flour over it every so often. Rub the butter into the flour until evenly distributed but still in little lumps. Mix in the yogurt to form a ball of stiff dough. Cover and set it aside.
 
Make the Filling:
3 medium onions
3 cloves of garlic
1 medium carrot 
1 tablespoon bacon fat or mild vegetable oi
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
400 grams (scant pound) ground beef or other meat
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley and/or dill
 
Peel and chop the onions. Peel and mince the garlic. Peel and grate the carrot. 
 
Heat the fat or oil in a large skillet and cook the onions and carrot gently over medium heat, stirring regularly, until softened and reduced. Add the garlic and seasonings. Add the ground or finely chopped meat, and cook until browned but still with a fair bit of pink showing. Remove the pan from the heat. 

Wash, dry, and chop the herbs. 

Roll out the pastry to fit your pie plate(s). Spread the filling out in it evenly, and sprinkle with the chopped fresh herbs. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Make the Topping:
1 cup thick yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Whisk the mayonnaise into the yogurt, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Season with the salt and pepper, and whisk again. Pour this evenly over the prepared pie(s). Shake them gently to settle the topping into the meat. 

Bake at 375°F for 45 to 50 minutes for a single pie, or for 30 to 35 minutes if you have made 6 single pies. In any case the filling should be just set in the middle, and show some brown spots. 

Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving; also fine at room temperature.

Russian Meat Pie