>> Tuesday, March 31, 2015
|Pierogi, also called vareniki, perogi, perogy, piroghi, pirogi, piroshki, pirozhki, pyrohy, pielmieni, pierogies, pierogie, piroggen, and pelmeni. Whew!|
Why would Joe and I try to cook pierogi when we can get them frozen in the store any day? Well, we had a couple reasons. First, we knew that the Polish celebrate Christmas and Easter with special types of dumplings, and we wanted to get into the spirit of Easter by celebrating some other country's customs.
Second, Joe has been experimenting with different kinds of pasta dough, as you may have seen in our recipes like gnudi with wild mushrooms, gyoza dumplings, ricotta and chard gnocchi, and bacon-filled ravioli. Pierogi was a logical step.
Third, we all know that everything tastes better when you make it fresh, and when you customize it to your own tastes. That's why we've included some rather traditional pierogi recipes, along with our own variations. The wonderful thing about dumpling filling is you can throw in whatever you have or whatever you like - just make sure it's well chilled or stuffing will be difficult.
Our fillings for pierogies (below the photos):
Berries and Cottage Cheese
Beef and Vegetable
Sweet Prune (Lekvar)
Peanut Butter and Banana
Kielbasa and Cabbage (Haluski-style pierogi)
Traditionally, Polish Catholics forsake meat products on holy days, especially in the 40 days of Lent before Easter, so potato, cheese, mushroom, sauerkraut, and fruit are often the favorite stuffing.
I also read that people (perhaps in smaller villages) would bring their foodstuffs to the church before Easter and have the priest bless them. Then they would share their dishes with each other. I love the idea of a community getting together to share their foods and celebrate together. It reminds me of the community breakfast my church serves on Easter Sunday.
|Priest blessing food baskets (Swiecone) the day before Easter|
(thanks to http://www.polamjournal.com for the beautiful photo!)
While Joe and I did quite a bit of experimenting while making these, we got some initial help from the time-tested pierogi recipes of Tasting Poland. The writer shares her family pierogi recipes, along with all sorts of tips and tricks.
Ingredients - Pierogi Dough3 cups white flour
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp. vegetable oil
Instructions - Pierogi DoughIn a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Pour in the water while mixing vigorously.
Whisk together the egg, sour cream, and oil. Make a well in the middle of the flour, then pour in the egg mixture. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, blend the liquid into the flour mixture.
Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic - about 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a little flour; if it is too dry, sprinkle it with a bit of water.
Now sprinkle some more flour on your work surface and roll out the dough until it is about 1/8" thick. Try not to overwork the dough, or it will be tough after it's cooked. Cut out circles with a cookie cutter or cup.
|Step 1: Roll out your dough and fill the dough circles. These are potato-cheese and meat-veggie pierogi.|
Place a heaping tablespoon of filling onto one half of the circle, then wet the edge with a little water so the dough will stick together. Fold over the other half of the dough and pinch the edges shut.
|Step 2: Boil the pierogi 5-8 minutes|
Heat a large pot of boiling water, drop in 1/3 of the dumplings, and give them a gentle stir. Boil 5-8 minutes - the pierogi should pop up to the top about halfway through the cooking time. If you're watching the pot, you can time the second half of the cooking by the time they bob to the surface.
While they're cooking, if you'd like to toast them before eating, heat up a little oil in a pan on medium heat. Drop in the pierogi after you've strained them out of the water, and cook 2 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned.
|Step 3: Brown the pierogi in some oil or butter. These are Haluski-style pierogi, with kielbasa and cabbage.|
Whether you want to fry the pierogi after cooking or not, we really like serving these with a dollop of sour cream, regardless of the filling. Some people pour melted butter over them, and top with fried onions. Delicious.
Makes about 30 stuffed pierogi.
Pierogi Filling Recipes
Potato and Mushroom
Potato-Cheese-Onion (Pittsburgh or Ruskie pierogi)
Mushroom and Sauerkraut2 oz. dried mushrooms, rehydrated, or 2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms (porcini, morels, or chanterelles are very good here)
1/2 tsp dill
2 cups sauerkraut, rinsed and well-drained
1 tbsp butter
Chop the onion and mushroom well, then saute in the butter until tender. Chop the sauerkraut and dill and stir into the mixture. Chill until cold, then stuff into pierogi.
Beef and Vegetable1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 celery stalk
butter or oil for frying
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup water or broth
Salt and Pepper to taste
Brown the ground beef in a large skillet. Set aside. Finely chop the vegetables, then saute in the oil until soft. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, then transfer to a blender or food processor. Process until the mixture has a uniform texture similar to large crumbs. Chill until cold, then stuff into pierogies and cook away!
Bacon-Swiss-Caramelized Onion1/2 lb bacon
1 cup Swiss cheese
Fry the bacon until crisp, then drain on paper towels. Cook the onions in the bacon grease, then drain and place in a bowl. Chop up the bacon and add it to the onions. Shred the cheese, then add the cheese, butter, bread crumbs, salt and pepper to the mixture. Chill until very cold, then stuff the pierogi.
Kielbasa (Haluski-style Pierogi)
1 tsp oil
Berries and Cottage Cheese4 cups raspberries, blueberries, sliced strawberries, bilberries, or other fruit
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Put the cottage cheese in a colander and press out the liquid. Stir together all ingredients, then chill until very cold. Stuff into pierogi.
Apricot Compote12 oz. dried apricots
1 cup water
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp melted butter
Place the apricots, water, and lemon zest in a small pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then simmer until soft - about 20 minutes. Drain the water, then transfer to a blender or food processor. Add the rest of the ingredient, then process into a thick chunky jam. Chill well before stuffing into pierogi.
Sweet Prune (Lekvar)2 cups dried, pitted prunes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Peanut Butter and Banana2 ripe bananas
1 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder (optional)
Slice the bananas into disks, then place one or two disks onto each dough round. Top with a few teaspoons of peanut butter. After boiling, fry these in butter and then sprinkle with the cocoa powder.
Make lots of pierogi - and then freeze them for later!