There’s an amazing Russian alternative to PIZZA!Yulia Mulino
Ossetian pies are centuries old. They are a festive and ritual dish of the Russian region of North Ossetia - Alania, which is located in the North Caucasus. They are round closed flatbreads with a variety of different fillings. Inside can be meat, vegetables or cheese. Each pie has its own name. A pie with cheese and potatoes is called kartofdgin.
There is a tradition of serving three flatbreads on the holiday table, which symbolise God, the sun (or sky) and the earth. But only two pies are served at funerals.
The thinner the pie and the more filling, the better it tastes. Therefore, the flatbread is made so that the amount of dough is roughly equal to the amount of filling.
Traditionally, Ossetian cheese, which is dense in texture and salty in taste, is used when making Ossetian pies. However, even in Russia, it is not always possible to find this cheese in the shops.
Alternatively, a mixture of pressed mozzarella and a type of feta cheese or suluguni is recommended. I used smoked scamorza - Italian cow milk cheese. The main thing is that the cheese should be solid (not watery) and salty.
The flatbread is made with yeast dough, baked in the oven and smeared liberally with butter after baking.
I didn't compare these pies to pizza for nothing. Ossetian pies have become popular not only in Ossetia itself, but all over Russia. You can try them both in cafés and also find them in food delivery services. My Italian family greatly appreciated the soft flavoursome dough, the juicy filling and the crispy crust of Ossetian flatbread. You should try them, too!
Serves 4-6 persons as a side dish, or 3 persons as a main dish.
1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm kefir, and add melted butter.
2. Sift flour and salt into the liquid mixture.
3. Knead with a mixer for about 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
4. Cover the dough with wrap and leave it to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size.
5. Shrink the dough, cover it and leave to rise again.
6. You can start working with the filling. Boil the potatoes, peel them, season with salt and butter and grind until smooth.
7. Add the finely-grated cheese.
8. Divide the homogeneous cheese-potato mixture into three equal parts.
9. After the dough has risen once more, settle it and place onto a floured work surface. Divide the dough into three equal parts.
10. Place the dough on a floured baking paper to form the cake. Form a small flapjack. Place a lump of filling in the middle.
11. Tie the edges on top.
12. Turn the ball over.
13. Gently flatten the dough into a flat flap, 1 to 1.5 cm. It is important not to tear the dough. Make a hole in the middle to allow steam to escape.
14. Bake the flatbread for about 15-20 minutes at 220º C. Brush the hot pie with butter.
15. Keep the pies under the cup while the other ones are being cooked.
16. Place the remaining two flatbreads on top.
17. Cut into 8 pieces and serve at once. Or leave the whole flatbread in one piece and eat when cooled. Enjoy!
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