I feel wrong about celebrating Russian day of the ‘motherland’s defenders’, commonly known as ‘The Men’s day’.
Needless to say current political situation in Mother Russia makes one uncertain about outright signs of patriotic feelings. Perhaps with my British sensibilities of equating right-wing nationalism with protectionism, xenophobia and – in case of this particular day – basic sexism, I feel uncomfortable about signing praises to a state-sponcored day off that celebrates military force and all that comes with it…
But in preparation for the upcoming Russian Revels Manly Dinner next week, I feel drawn to exploring all things allegedly manly, all the glorious cliches of what ‘a real man’ really is and what he eats…
Hence – The Manly pie.
I have cooked up the above masculine beauty during this week’s Maslenitsa celebrations, or the Shrove Tuesday, Mardis Gras, basically the Pancake week.
Russian Revels were invited to put a blini party together for Snob magazine (an international, cosmopolitan glossy mag for Russians across the globe). Maslenitsa in Russian Orthodox tradition is the first week before the Great Lent (fasting) when meat is already banned, but fish and butter and eggs could still be eaten. Oh, and they are eaten in great abundance.
Of course, I wanted to break from the tradition and constructed a pie out of blini (crepes) with several generous layers of chicken liver, grounded beef, slow cooked onions, sourcream…where would Russian Revels be without a bit of rebellion!
The Manly pancake pie.
For this recipes quantities are difficult – stuff as much stuff as you can stuff.
Apprx you will need:
lots of butter, I mean half a pack? plus if you want some beef dripping for your beef filling
3-4 medium size onions, chopped
500 g organic chicken livers
3-4 tbs sherry or port
250 g minced beef – I use Rother Valley pure Aberdeen angus
1 tbs tomato paste
Worchestershire sauce, 1-2 ts
Sourcream about 1 pack, around 140 ml
a small bunch of herbs: parsley, dill
paprika for sprinkling on top
6-7 pancakes (basic unleavened recipe)
1.Sweat onions gently in lots of butter for good 15-20 minutes. Put aside to cool.
2. Make the chicken liver filling:
chop the liver in half and fry gently in lots of butter for 3-5 mins. they’ll still be half cooked, that’s fine as you’ll need to cook them more later. put them aside to cool slightly.
Process half of the livers in a processor until smooth. Chop the rest roughly (you want it for texture). Put the liver paste in the pan with more butter, stir for a minute, then added the chopped stuff, flambe with sherry or port. Add salt, pepper, herbs, a couple of table spoons of sourcream, half of your onion mixture. Mix gently. Put aside to cool.
3. Make the beef filling:
Melt some beef dripping or butter, fry the mince until almost cooked, add Worcestershire sauce, a good squirt of tomato paste, the remaining onions, a bit more sourcream. The mixture shouldn’t be too sloppy so that it holds its shape but not dry either.
4. Construct the pie:
Here goes 1 pancake, smear good 4-5-6 tbs of chicken liver filling, then another pancake, more filling etc.
You can pour some sourcream over each layer of the filling to moisten the whole thing. Maybe even a mixture of sourcream and melted butter.
You can choose to alternate the fillings, but I prefer to have 2 chicken liver, then 2 beef, then 2 chicken liver fillings – so more chicken liver than beef.
Press gently as you go along. Finish by sprinkling some paprika on top. Leave to ‘come to senses’ over night in room temperature.
Slice like a cake and serve with more sourcream and butter, perhaps some dill sprinkled on top. With pepper vodka or a strong cup of black tea.
Gorge yourself on the manly beauty of the pie. Spring is almost there, big, masculine, comforting.
ps the pie is divine for the next 3 days, re-fried in butter until crisp and almost caramelised.