Of all the cooking that I do, I have a couple of recipes that are staples in the kitchen and really bring me back to my childhood. Growing up in a Polish-American family, pierogi were always one of the dishes that was served along any big event. For Christmas and Easter, they were there, and each year at the church festival, they were also there, golden and crispy on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside.
After my grandmother Zosia(Sophie)’s passing 6 years ago, no one in the family really had an interest in continuing the labor-intensive tradition of pierogi making. And then there was this weird little gay boy who liked getting dirty in the kitchen.
To celebrate my mother, the sheeny herself, coming for a DC visit, I decided to role out the cabbage-lined carpet and create a feast that would please even the frumpiest Stasho at the PLAV.
The centerpiece was a behemoth platter of pierogi. And in full disclosure, I have to confess, that in the heat of the day of cooking, I somehow managed to forget to take photos of much of the end results. Not sure how this happened exactly, but I’ll blame the wine.
This time around, to make the actual dining day a bit smoother, I rolled out the pierogi dough a few days ahead of time. It’s a rather simple dough, but is a bit time consuming to roll out and cut. Since I wanted some extra, I decided to make a double recipe, as each batch usually makes about 40 little dumplings.
To start off, melt butter (it’s Polish food, so it’s not supposed to be healthy, but if you MUST, you can get away with margarine) in the a cup of warm milk. I usually just put the butter into the milk and microwave it slowly until it’s all melted, but not scalded.
Once it’s all melted, add egg yolks, then add flour and salt. Once the dough comes together, let it take a brief nap, covered and come back to it.
Give it a good knead for about two minutes, then let rest for another ten.
After the rest, divide dough and roll each half out to about 1/8 thickness. Once it’s rolled out, you want to cut them into three-inch rounds. If you don’t have a cookie or dough cutter, use an upside down glass.
Once you have all your dough cut, it’s time to fill!
This time around, I decided to go for four different fillings. The traditional are cheese, potato/onion and sauerkraut. To mix it up, and to use up the Dearborn Ham that my mother brought down for Easter, I made a potato/onion/ham version as well.
The cheese is simple, it’s just ricotta cheese, egg and sugar. The potato, also, fairly simple, mashed potato, onion, salt and pepper. Kraut, similarly, just uses some sauerkraut and onion. For the ham variant, I just three some chopped ham into some of the prepared potato filling.
For filling, take about a tablespoon or two of the filling of your choice, and place in the middle of the dough circle. The goal is to fill the pierogi as mucha s possible, while still being able to close the dumpling. After a dollop of filling, moisten one half of the pierogi and fold over. I now usually just seal them with my fingers, for a more rustic look, but you can also close with a fork if you prefer.
If you are storing the pierogi and not cooking immediately, be sure to coat them with Pam or a similar cooking spray so they don’t stick. There is nothing worse than spending all day rolling out dough, and then having all of your pierogi get destroyed before you even get to indulge.
When you’re ready to cook them, start off with a quick boil. By pre-boiling, it helps the pierogi stay together, and ensures an even cook.
After the boil, heat some butter or margarine in a pan and then throw the boiled pierogi in. After a minute or two, flip them over to get a nice, even brown coat.
Once they are nice and crispy, serve them with a side of sour cream and dig in!
Pierogi Dough Recipe
(makes 40 pierogi)
- 1 cup warm milk
- 4 Tablespoons butter (or margarine if you must)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 egg yolks beaten
- 3.5 – 4 cups of flour
- Melt butter in warm milk
- Add egg yolks and beat
- Then pour flour and salt into mix
- Mix dough together then cover and let rest for 10 minutes
- Knead for about 2 minutes
- Let rest for another 10 minutes, then divide in half
- Roll each half out to 1/8 inches thick
- Once flat, cut into 3-inch rounds
- Once cut, fill with a tablespoon or two of filling of choice, then fold in half
- Once they are filled, pre-boil, then fry in butter
- 16oz. Ricotta Cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- Mix all ingredients together
- 4 potatoes
- 1 onion
- Peel and dice potatoes
- Boil potatoes until tender
- While potatoes are boiling, chop then lightly caramelize onions
- Mash potatoes, salt and pepper to taste
- Once potatoes are mashed, mix in browned onions
Ham and Potato Filling
- Potato Filling recipe (above)
- 1 cup of diced ham
- Mix diced ham into potato mixture
- 1 cup of prepared sauerkraut
- 1 onion diced
- Melt butter in pan, add onions, then sauerkraut
I’ll be posting throughout the week with some more Polish delicacies that I concocted during the week. Be sure to check back for my sauerkraut recipe, dill pickle soup, Polish apple cake, and more! Dziękuję.