Why Pierogi are awesome:
1. Pierogi is both the singular AND plural form of these delicious Polish dumplings. I know, you were calling them pierogies…me too.
2. They have aliases – They’re also known as varenyky in the Ukraine, taskice in Croatia, koldunai in Russia, pelmeni in Romania, gombac in Hungary and knedle in Czechoslovakia. Basically, they are sooo awesome, everybody has their own version.
3. They float to the top when they are done – Built in timer!
4. They are dumplings made of pasta-like dough, stuffed to the brim with mashed potatoes, enriched with sour cream, laced with creamy cheeses and often FRIED or BATHED in butter! I think we’ve said enough.
You buy your pierogi? From a lovely woman named Mrs. T? Those are great, don’t get me wrong, but these…these are a labor of love…and they are worth it. During my cultural foods class’s Eastern European unit we ( 20 teenagers and one crazed teacher ) make these in two 40 minute periods, you can TOTALLY do this. The first time I taught this, I tried a recipe from a student’s Polish grandma. Unfortunately Grandma recipes are rarely written down in specifics and are hard to replicate. The second year I did it, I found out that Martha Stewart’s mom was quite the perogi expert and Martha’s website features an adorable video of them making them together. Martha’s mom, Mrs. Kostyra, just seems like the type of grandma you can trust and you can, this recipe is pretty straight forward and my students and I were able to pull it off. The original recipe left us with a lot of filling leftover, leaving me to believe that we were probably not skilled enough to stuff them as much as Martha’s mom did. If you find yourself with leftover filling DO NOT DESPAIR! They make AMAZING potato croquettes. Refrigerate, roll into balls or cylinders and bread with flour, egg and then breadcrumbs. Fry or bake until golden brown. Two treats in one. Good deal.
For the dough:
- 1/2 large egg ( scramble and divide)
- 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
For the filling:
- 5 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced small
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted – Plus 3 tablespoons for frying
- ½ cup cheddar cheese grated
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Make the dough:
In a medium bowl, whisk egg. Add sour cream, and whisk until smooth. Add milk and water, and whisk until combined. Slowly add 2 ½ cups flour and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and work in remaining 1/4 cup flour as you knead. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes, the dough should be elastic in texture and no longer sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest while you prepare filling.
Make the filling:
Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Season with salt. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Cook until fork-tender. Drain and mash with a potato masher. Add 2 tablespoons melted butter and the cheeses and continue to mash until well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lay a clean linen towel on your counter, and evenly distribute cornmeal on it to prevent sticking.
To roll, cut and fill dough:
On a floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Using a glass or cookie cutter measuring 2 1/2 inches in diameter, cut out about 30 circles. Gather dough scraps together, rolling them out again, and continue cutting.
Form filling into 1- 1/2-inch balls, and place a ball in the center of each dough circle. Holding a circle in your hand, fold dough over filling, and pinch the edges, forming a well-sealed crescent. Transfer to linen towel. Continue this process until all dough circles are filled.
To cook pierogi:
Place a large pot of salted water over high heat, and bring to a boil. Place pierogi in boiling water in batches. They will sink to the bottom of the pot and then rise to the top. Once they rise, let them cook for about a minute more. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with 3 tablespoons of butter. Sauté boiled pierogi until golden brown and crisp on the edges. Serve immediately.