Belyashi, Pan Fried Meat Pies
Friday, 12 March 2010 19:56

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Belyashi are pan-fried individual pies stuffed with a mixture of raw ground beef and onions. As a rule, belyashi have round shape with an opening on top. Since these pies are made with raw meat that is cooked encased in dough, they turn out exceptionally juicy. It’s important to eat belyashi within a couple hours after cooking before the juices get absorbed by the dough. Make as many as you can eat at once. It’s better to refrigerate dough and raw meat and make a new batch the next day.

My take on belyashi was using ground lamb instead of beef. I also made them triangular – this way they are more convenient to bite into.

You will need:

Filling:

  • Ground lamb – 1 lb
  • Half large onion
  • Black pepper – ½ tsp
  • Salt – 1 heaping tsp or to taste
  • 3 medium sized cloves garlic
  • Herbs like cilantro, dill, and/or mint (optional), finely chopped
  • Water, optional

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It is better to make a filling for belyashi several hours or better a day in advance. Time works wonders on both flavor and texture.

Mince onions and garlic using a fine grater or a sharp Chef’s knife. Combine all the ingredients together and stir well. Most likely, the mixture will be pretty thick and firm. Thin it by adding water, about 1/3 or ¼ cup, until the mixture gets very soft, but not overly slushy. To check the consistency, try to shape a piece of the mixture into a patty: it should be somewhat hard because of the softness and stickiness of the mixture, but not impossible.

After several hours in the refrigerator, the mixture will become thicker again and will hold its shape even if warmed up to room temperature. On the other hand, if you plan to use the filling sooner rather than later, don’t thin it too much.

Cover the bowl and put in a refrigerator.

Dough:

  • 14 oz/400g all purpose flour (about 3 cups)
  • 10.5 oz by weight/300 g/300 ml 2% milk (about 1 and ¼ cup)
  • About 1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp salt

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Heat the milk in a microwave oven or on a stove until slightly warm (100-110F). Remove from the heat and stir in sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top and wait about 7-10 minutes or until the yeast becomes foamy.

Add flour and salt and stir to make soft sticky dough. Knead the dough with your hands or in a stand mixer until it becomes elastic and not sticky anymore about 5-10 minutes.

Put the dough in a big lightly oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise about 2.5 times. Depending on a room temperature, it may take 1.5-2.5 hours.

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 Punch the dough down and take out of the bowl. Knead very briefly and divide the dough into 1.2oz/35g pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, put on a floured surface, cover with a kitchen towel and leave for the second rise, which will take about 35-40 minutes.

Roll each ball into 3.5-4” circle. Put 1.2oz/35g of the filling in the center of each circle and spread with a spoon leaving about ¼ inch clean rim around. Shape a triangular pie, making three seems and leaving a hole in the center (see step-by-step pictures at the bottom). Flatten each belyash with your palm.

On a medium - medium high heat, heat about 1 inch oil in a frying pan. Put belyashi open side down and let cook until golden brown. Keep in mind that since the filling includes raw meat, not only you should cook the dough and brown the surface of the pies, but let the meat inside cook through. You have to adjust the heat under the pan so that the belyashi don’t brown too fast. On my stove I reduce heat to medium when add belyashi. As for timing, I would say 2 minutes on each side would be a good start and then you see for yourself.

Turn belyashi on the other side and cook until their bottoms turn golden brown too.

It is very important to fry belyashi open side down first. If you start with frying them on their bottoms and then turn them open side down, all the wonderful juices that gathered inside the pies will leak to the oil. The outcomes are obvious, right?! Not good for you, nor for the belyashi.

For the same reason, once you turn belyashi on their bottoms, never turn them over back.

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Put fried belyashi on a paper towel to absorb excess fat. Wait about 5-10 minutes before serving.

Belyashi are so juicy and their flavor is so self-sufficient that there is no necessity in an accompanying sauce. Still, if you feel like adding an extra dimension, a yogurt based sauce would be a proper choice.

Sauce:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill or a mixture of dill and mint
  • Salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients together. Chill in a refrigerator before serving.

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