Pierogis are dumplings of unleavened dough – first boiled, then they are baked or fried usually in butter with onions – traditionally stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese, or fruit. One of my favorites is cherry pie filling, and a banana-raisin (shown below) filling for a desert. Of central and eastern European provenance, they are usually semicircular, but are rectangular or triangular in some cuisines. Traditionally considered peasant food, they eventually gained popularity and spread throughout all social classes including nobles. Although Pierogi are still an important part of Polish culture and cuisine today, they are very popular in other European countries such as Slovakia, Romania, and Ukraine. Pierogi are the Polish form of a handmade dumpling, made of unleavened dough, usually shaped into a semi-circle. The seams are pressed together to seal the pierogi so that the filling will remain inside when it is cooked. The most common filling is potato which is peeled and then ground or mashed into the consistency of mashed potatoes. There are several variations of fillings depending on where you have pierogi, but some may include: potato and cheese, mushrooms, sauerkraut, meat, potato and sour cream, fruits such as blueberry, or even spinach.
yield: 48-50 pierogi
3 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading
1 cup water
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
For potato filling
1 1/2 pound russet potatoes
6 ounces coarsely grated Cheddar or 4 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 cups sauerkraut, chopped, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced, or 4 ounces canned mushrooms, drained
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped
2 tablespoons sour cream
Sweet Cottage Cheese Filling is often mixed with raisins and vanilla flavor and served just coated with melted butter as dessert. For this filling you will need:
4 cups of fresh cottage cheese
4 tablespoons of sugar
2 whole eggs, beaten and mixed in,
vanilla flavor to taste
1 cup of golden or sultana raisins, cleaned and soaked in warm water, than drained and mixed in (option) Blueberrys, sliced strawberrys, chopped peaches, apple pie filling, cherry pie filling, sweet potato custard (like you use for a pie) Just about anything you can imaginw eill worn in these.
Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of each circle of dough and fold over. Press and seal into half-moon shapes. Use a little water to seal the pierogi. In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pierogi for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until they float. Remove from the water and drain. You may saute’ these in butter to give it a crunch if you wish. For the dessert peirogis, sprinkle some powered sugar over the top while warm. Place them in serving dish with melted butter and serve warm.
Special equipment: a 2 ½ or 3 inch round cookie cutter
Put flour in a large shallow bowl and make a well in centre. Add water, egg, oil, and salt to well and carefully beat together with a fork without incorporating flour. Continue stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually incorporating flour, until a soft dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting with flour as needed to keep dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes (dough will be very soft). Invert a bowl over dough and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.
Make filling while dough stands:
Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Cook potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain potatoes, then equally divide in two bowls. In one bowl add the cheese, salt, and pepper, in the other bowl, add the green onion oil. Mash the potatoes until smooth and mix thoroughly.
When mashed potatoes are cool enough to handle, use a small cookie scoop to scoop out the filling. Cover and keep the filling in the fridge until you are ready to fill your pierogi.
Form and cook pierogie:
Halve dough and roll out 1 half (keep remaining half under inverted bowl) on lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 15-inch round (1/8 inch thick), then cut out 24 rounds with lightly floured cutter. Holding 1 round in palm of your hand, put 1 potato ball in centre of round and close your hand to fold round in half, enclosing filling. Pinch edges together to seal completely.
Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pierogi, stirring once or twice to keep them from sticking together, and cook 5 minutes from time pierogi float to surface. Drain and pan fry in butter or oil over medium heat until crisp.