Recipe Submitted by : Russian Recipe Book
Duration : 8 hours 30 minutes
Serve : 10
1 cup water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 cup milk
8 cups (approximately) all-purpose wheat flour
3 egg yolks + 1 egg yolk for glazing
1/3 cups sugar
2 oz. unsalted butter (1/2 stick) + extra butter for greasing baking sheet, etc.
½ tsp. salt
5 lbs. (approximately) chicken thighs or quarters
6 Tbsps. butter or olive oil
1 ½ tsps. salt (approximately)
- Make the “opara” (preferment). Heat 1 cup of water to the temperature recommended for dry yeast activation on the packet (usually 110-120° F), and stir in the yeast. Let the yeast dissolve and then gradually mix in flour until the dough becomes thick paste hard to stir by hand. Stir from the center avoiding scraping the sides of the mixing bowl too often. Don’t forget to sift the flour before adding it! Cover and let rise at room temperature for about 4 – 5 hours. The preferment should more than double in size by the end of the fermentation period and should become much softer. If that doesn’t happen, your project is in trouble, usually due to expired yeast or wrong activation temperature.
- Heat 1 cup of milk to the boiling point. That should inactivate the undesirable enzymes that may still be present in milk despite pasteurization. Cool to about 100° F. While the milk is cooling.
- Thoroughly mix egg yolks and sugar. Add melted butter and mix everything very well. Stir in salt.
- Push down your “opara” preferment and transfer it to a larger bowl if necessary.
- Mix in the milk. Add the egg yolk/sugar/butter/salt mix and stir until everything is mixed well.
- Start adding sifted flour. First stir (from the center) and then knead when the dough becomes too thick to stir.
- Knead in enough flour so that the dough stops sticking to the hands (even though it should still feel a little sticky), form a ball and place it in a lightly greased container. Cover and leave to rise at room temperature. Meanwhile work on the filling.
- When the dough doubles or even better, triples in size, push it down gently trying not to flatten completely, then scoop it out, flip the dough ball over, and cover it again. When the dough rises, repeat the process. The dough should rise three times total. If you are pressed for time and your oven has a proofing mode, you can use that for the second and third rising.
- Add pieces of chicken, carrots, and 1 onion (may cut it in half for a better fit) to a pot, add just enough water to cover (you won’t need most of the broth), cover, and boil for about 1 ½ hours. Do not add salt. The salt level of the filling will be adjusted at the end.
- Hard boil the eggs and let them cool.
- When the chicken is ready, remove it and the carrots from the pot and let them cool. Discard the onion. Strain and save the broth.
- Separate chicken meat from bones. Discard the bones and chicken skins.
- Mince chicken meat. Chop cooked carrots, fresh onion, and hard boiled eggs. Keep all the ingredients separate.
- Add oil to a large deep skillet and heat it.
- Sauté the onions until they are light brown in color.
- Add chopped carrots to the skillet with onions and sauté for 2 more minutes.
- Add minced chicken and sauté until everything is thoroughly mixed and heated through.
- Transfer the mix to a mixing bowl.
- Dissolve 2 teaspoons of salt in ½ cup of chicken broth.
- Gradually add the salted broth to the mix stirring it in thoroughly and tasting until achieving the desired salt level. You may not need the entire amount. Discard the unused portion. The filling should be somewhat salty to create contrast with the slightly sweet dough. If the mix feel very dry (although it should not be at this point), add a small amount of unsalted chicken broth. Do not make it too moist or it’ll leak from the rolls during baking!
- Mix in chopped hard boiled eggs. The filling is now ready but the dough may not be. Keep the filling in the fridge until you are ready to use it to avoid food poisoning.
Making the rolls:
- Punch down the dough after the third rise but don’t flatten it completely. It will be a bit sticky at this point but quite workable on a surface dusted with flour.
- Dust work surface with flour.
- Cut off a piece of dough about 3 inches in diameter and flatten it into an oval shape first by hand and then with a rolling pin. The thickness should be about ½ inch.
- Grease the flattened dough with melted butter sparing the edges.
- Put a generous amount of filling in the center of the flattened dough piece keeping in mind that when you fold the dough around the filling the edges should meet without stretching and thinning the sides of the roll too much.
- Moisten the edges and pinch them together so they stick together and seal. Fold the edge over like a toothpaste tube and pinch together again. Flatten the seam.
- In the palms of your hands (dust them with flour if you have to), give the roll an elongated shape with tapered ends distributing the filling inside evenly.
- Put the roll seam down on a greased baking sheet and repeat the above step.
- Let the rolls stand for about 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Make several neat holes in the tops of your rolls to let the steam escape. This is an optional step but if you have a lot of filling, the roll may burst along its sides. Even if that happens, that is usually not a huge problem and mostly affects the aesthetics. You’ll learn from experience. In the Soviet times (and in post-Soviet times in some establishments that refuse to part with the old ways) so little filling was used and the dough was often made so tough that pie rupture was not an issue and no vent holes needed to be made.
- Put the rolls in the oven and immediately drop the setting to 375°F or even 350°F (depending on the particular oven and the size of the rolls – you’ll find by trial and error how your oven behaves).
- Beat the remaining egg yolk. You may actually need two.
- When the rolls in the oven start turning light gold and forming crust, briefly pull them out (watch out for steam when you open the door) and quickly brush on the beaten egg yolk. If you find this too much of a hassle, you can brush on the egg yolk at the beginning right before putting the rolls in the oven.
- Continue baking until you see dark golden color.
- Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. This is a very important step because the filling inside is still making lots of hot steam that without good air circulation around the cooling roll will make the shell mushy, especially on the bottom. Therefore do not leave the rolls on the baking sheet or place them on a hard impermeable surface during cooling.
- Cover the rolls with a towel and let them stand for no less than 15 minutes before they are finally yours.
- Serve as a separate dish or with soup. You’ve worked hard. Now enjoy!