Ukrainian easter pie

Ukrainian easter pie

Przysmak gambino

Borsch, Vodka and Tears
Bonnie Savage

This is not Ukrainian, has nothing to do with Easter and is only tenuously a pie. It came about after a staff meal went horribly right. A strapping English fellow with the incongruous name of ‘Gambino’ decided to combine as many available sausages as he could find into a monstrous hotpot. The result was so tasty that we decided to stuff it into a hollowed-out loaf of bread and put it on the menu.

It was a few weeks later that an inquisitive group of Ukrainians ordered the dish: ‘We are from the Ukraine and we have never seen this dish.’ I made a phone call to Andrzej to solve the mystery of this misnomer. He told me that Maria, then his fiancé, had cooked him a recipe by that name a few months earlier but it was so unpalatable that neither of them could eat it. Since then, ‘Ukrainian Easter Pie’ had become his answer to everything and he couldn’t resist using their joke when naming this dish. The Ukrainians were clearly a romantic lot and laughed when they heard the story, then immediately devoured their meals!


Quantity Ingredient
50g dried cannellini beans
150g fresh polish sausages
150g kransky sausage
150g csabai sausage
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 large celery stick, diced
125g paprika relish, (see note)
125ml tomato passata
2 thyme sprigs
3-4 rosemary leaves, chopped
4 small cobs crusty bread, about 15 cm across


  1. Soak the cannellini beans overnight in cold water. My tip for soaking beans is to soak them in the refrigerator. That way, if you forget about them for a few days, you don’t have to throw them out and start again.
  2. Drain the dried beans and put them in a saucepan with enough fresh water to cover. Don’t add any salt or it will toughen the beans and make them impossible to cook. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender, about 1–1½ hours. Drain and set aside.
  3. Put the Polish sausages into a saucepan with enough cold water to cover them by 1 cm. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 6 minutes. Remove the sausages from the water to cool and reserve 125 ml of the cooking liquid.
  4. Cut all of the sausages in quarters lengthways and then into 5 mm slices. Put into a heavy-based saucepan or casserole dish and cook them over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are evenly browned.
  5. Remove the sausage to a plate. Add the onion, carrot and celery to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent. Return the sausage to the pan, add the paprika relish, tomato passata, the reserved sausage cooking liquid and the herbs. Cover, and cook over a low heat for 1 hour. Add the cannellini beans and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes, seasoning with salt and black pepper.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180°C. While the stew is cooking, take a small, serrated knife and cut a circle in the top of each loaf of bread. Cut the circle off to form a lid. You can trim underneath later. Use your fingers to pull most of the soft bread out from inside the loaves, leaving 1–2 cm as a lining. You can save the insides of the loaves to add to the chicken meatballs in Chicken Meatball Soup. Put the bread loaves and the lids into the oven and cook until just starting to get crispy, about 10 minutes.
  7. Spoon the sausage mixture into the loaves, cover with the lids and serve immediately.


  • You can get good results with different sausages. If you can’t get a fresh pork sausage, Italian would substitute very well. Then use two types of cured sausage, you could probably use a spicy unsmoked chorizo and smoky mild kabana.

    You can use a 400 g tin cannellini beans to save time if you prefer — rinse and drain before adding.

    Ajvar originated in Serbia and is available from Eastern European grocery stores. It is essentially a paste made from roasted red capsicum and eggplant and can be mild or hot. You can use either in this recipe, though we use the mild one.
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