Russian Pirok

Pirok, a pastry covered casserole layered with root vegetables like rutabega, carrots and onions, rice, bacon, and salted or canned salmon is almost required in Kodiak, Alaska, at weddings, funerals, birthdays, and especially on Russian New Year, January 14.

These deep dish pies arrived (along with flour) in Alaska with Russian fur traders and adventurers in the 1700s. Supply ships were scarce. As the dried meat the Russians carried with them ran out it was difficult to replace, so plentiful wild salmon joined the stores of long-lasting root vegetables, rice, and salted pork. In substituting fresh and salted salmon for the meat in the deep dish pie recipes, salmon pirok became a tradition of its own continuing for over 200 years.

Pirok remained popular for the same reasons it endured on the Russian frontier. Almost everyone in Alaska has access to wild salmon. The other ingredients store well through the winter, and the flavors meld together into a satisfying comfort food.

Although you can find many variations on Pirok, I used a recipe from Celeste Omlid, of Chip Cove Fish Site in Moser Bay, here. She is one of the finest natural cooks I have known - every dish perfectly seasoned.

Yields a 10-inch pie pan, 6 - 8 servings. Double this recipe for a crowd and bake in a 9 x 13 pan.

 

By | January 14, 2018

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 large rutabega, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 head cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 pound cooked salmon (canned works great)
  • to taste salt & pepper
  • Double pie crust
  • 2 cups cooked rice, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 egg (for egg wash)

Preparation

In a large frying pan, brown bacon. Remove cooked bacon and set aside, leaving drippings in pan.

In the same pan, add the carrots and rutabaga. Cook for about 10 minutes before adding the onion, cabbage, and garlic. Continue cooking until the onions are transparent and the vegetables are tender.

Return the cooked bacon to the pan and mix to incorporate the bacon drippings. Taste and adjust seasonings. You can cook vegetables in advance and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or until you are are ready to assemble the pie.

When ready to assemble, Roll out 1/2 of the pie crust and place in the bottom of a buttered 10-inch pie plate. Spread one cup of the rice over the bottom of the unbaked crust. Layer the vegetables, salmon and rice twice.

Dot butter over the top layer and cover with top pie crust, seal edges and flute. Mix egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush over top of pie. Bake at 350ยบ for 45 minutes to an hour, or until crust is golden brown.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 large rutabega, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 head cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 pound cooked salmon (canned works great)
  • to taste salt & pepper
  • Double pie crust
  • 2 cups cooked rice, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 egg (for egg wash)
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