Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 20, 2011: Potato and Cheese Pierogi Recipe

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I love pierogis. I guess it just makes sense since my family from my mother’s side was Polish – although Mom never made them. I discovered them in the frozen food aisle at the grocery store and once I’d tried them, I was hooked.

I always wanted to try making my own and finally braved it recently. I had leftover mashed potatoes, so that’s what made me take the plunge.

I found a recipe online at this page and because the heading said it had been handed down from generation to generation, I figured it was a good one to try. The instructions here are daunting and make it sound very difficult to make pierogis, but I thought it was actually pretty easy; probably depends on your cooking experience and level of expertise, I reckon.

As usual, I’ll give you the recipe as it was posted but give you my tips along the way.

Pierogi Dough
2½ - 3 cups flour
1 t, salt
1 egg
2 T. sour cream
About ½ cup lukewarm water

Mix all ingredients together, and knead just a bit. The dough should not be very smooth, and it should be quite sticky. Let stand covered with an inverted bowl for about half an hour before using. Take either all, or a portion of the dough, and roll it out until it is 1/16" thick. You will have to use plenty of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and rolling surface. You can also flip the dough several times as well. (Your work surface dictates how much you can roll out at one time.) The thickness is very important.

Tip: I found this recipe to be way too “wet”. I would add water about a tablespoon at a time or you will end up adding way more flour to make a workable dough. I figured the dough should resemble traditional pasta dough and this is, after all, a Polish pasta dish.

Mashed potatoes
Grated cheese

As I said, I used leftovers (if you have any leftover champ, that would work great) and sprinkled a bit of Parmesan on top. The filling was a bit dry, though (as were the potatoes – I’d used a new recipe I didn’t really care for and the leftovers weren’t good for anything) so I’ll probably opt for a different type of cheese next time, such as Havarti or fontina or even chevré.

Assembling the Pierogis

First, start a large pot of water boiling, add a couple tablespoons of salt. This is for cooking the pierogi.

Take your thinly rolled dough and cut out circles between 3 and 4" in diameter using any type of round device or container with a sharp rim. Add a dab of filling to each circle. A heaping teaspoon is plenty, but use your own judgment here. Now take your finger, dip it into warm water and coat the edge of half the pierogi circle with water. Make sure the half edge is completely wet. Then take the opposite dough edge and fold and stretch it over to the wet edge. Pick up the pierogi and with your fingers seal the edges tightly together. Make sure no filling has gotten on the sealing edge. If the pierogi looks too thin, dip the thin surface in flour before placing into the water.

Once a batch is finished place carefully in the boiling water. Total boiling time is 10-12 minutes. Turn or at least stir the pierogi after about 5 minutes. When finished, remove to a colander and rinse with cold water, then place on a cookie sheet to cool.

Cooking the Pierogis

I like pierogis best when they are fried with thinly sliced onions. Fry the onions first in butter or a combination of olive oil and butter, then add the peirogis to the hot pan. You only need to crisp up the outsides, as long as they’re not ice cold - fry a couple minutes per side until golden brown.

That’s it! Serve the pierogis hot as a side dish; they’re great with pork chops, sausages, meatloaf – just about any type of protein.

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