Potato and Cheese Pierogi

If you’re a fan of Polish cooking, or even remotely familiar with the culture, you’ve probably heard of pierogies.

Oddly enough, they were missing from my Poland roundup, since they seemed to be consumed at inopportune times, like when the camera was charging.

Pierogi are not complex creatures–they are essentially in the same family as the dumpling and sometimes called a ravioli because of the “stuffed” resemblance. They are widely popular in Eastern Europe, and migrated to the States with the immigrant population.

Today, the butchered version can be found in any supermarket freezer, but I’m going to show you a tried-and-true recipe that’s tough to mess up and has superior taste.

What You’ll Need

These amounts make about 40-50 pierogies. I typically figure 4-5 of these per person.

Dough:

  • 6 cups of flour
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 2 and 1/4 cups milk (I use Almond milk)
  • Pinch of salt

Filling:

The filling is a place of adventure and experimentation, but this one is among my favorites:

  • 7-8 large potatoes
  • 2 packets of farmer’s cheese (it only ever comes in one size at the store, a brick about 2″ by 6″)
  • One bunch of green onion/scallion/chives
  • Two regular onions
  • 1/2 pound of sliced bacon
  • Salt & pepper

Making the Magic

Prepare the filling first:

  1. Peel the potatoes and boil in salted water until done (stick with a knife–if the potato slides off, it’s ready). Mash the potatoes well.
  2. Slice the bacon in tiny strips cross-wise, then in half. Dice the onions. Heat a skillet over medium-high to high heat, add the bacon for about 1-2 minutes, then the remaining onions. Fry for about 10 minutes until the bacon is done and the onions are brown and well-caramelized. Take off heat and add to the potatoes; let both cool.
  3. Slice the green onion into small pieces and add to the above, once it’s had a chance to cool. Add both packets of the cheese and salt/pepper as well, then mix vigorously (I find a large fork to work best) for a few minutes until you get a nice, pasty filling.

Set the filling aside and work on the dough:

  1. Clean and prepare a large working surface on your counter, pouring some flour over it.
  2. Combine the flour, egg and salt in a bowl first, then add the milk.
  3. Mix the dough well with your hands until you get a very sticky dough.
  4. Transfer onto your counter; the flour will help to create a ball of dough you can start working with. Knead for a few minutes, then set aside.
  5. Take about one-third of the dough and use a roller to work into a very thin layer, replenishing flour as needed to prevent sticking. You should get a layer of dough roughly the size of a large pizza.
  6. Use a glass cup or some other round object to cut circular dough pieces, about 2-1/2″ in size. Incorporate the dough between pieces back into your “master ball” of dough.
  7. Get a tall pot of water boiling on the stove.
  8. Load a tall spoon of filling into one-half of each circle, about as much as you can fit into the pierogi.
  9. Moisten your finger and run it around the edge of one pierogi. Fold over and work the perimeter of the pierogi, squeezing it shut with your fingers as you go.
  10. Make about 10 of these at a time, then boil them for 5 minutes or so until they float to the surface. While the first batch boils, cut out and stuff subsequent batches.

Once all the pierogies are done, eat as-is or with sour cream, my favorite topping. You can also pan-fry them in some butter to develop a delicious golden-brown color. Some people also add onions and bacon to this last step, but I included both ingredients in the filling.

Other popular fillings include sauerkraut and mushrooms (another personal favorite), and fruits (blueberries and cherries work well).

Enjoy!

(Photo credit)