I know for a fact that I have posted pictures of my pierogi at least 6 times a year but never until today have I shared the recipe. I'm not quite sure how this has happened! No more waiting, here it is!
I've been making my own homemade pierogi for more years than I care to admit. I once had a job at a shop who made pierogi and not just any pierogi, actual 'gourmet' pierogi. And outside of homemade, they really are some of the very best pierogi you can buy from a store. I hear and read that word 'gourmet' being used a lot for 'foods' and 'food-like products' that are definitely not of gourmet quality.
Gourmet (US: /ɡɔːrˈmeɪ/, UK: /ˈɡɔːmeɪ/) is a cultural ideal associated with the culinary arts of fine food and drink, or haute cuisine, which is characterized by refined, even elaborate preparations and presentations of aesthetically balanced meals of several contrasting, often quite rich courses. (wiki)
You can't add mass produced ingredients to a product, tweak it, repackage it and call it gourmet. Well, you can if you really want to, there's just no truth to it. Gourmet foods are supposed to speak to a certain level of 'food quality integrity' and don't contained pre-packaged ingredients that are mass distributed, but I digress.
Pierogi? Varenyky? Pedaheh?
In our home as I was growing up, we didn't call them pierogi, we called them 'pedaheh'. Today in our house we call them pierogi! Mixed blooded Slavs don't need to get particular although I think maybe some of my ancestors may have just cringed a little bit as I typed that.
Pierogi (pronounced /pɪˈroʊgi/ pi-roh-ghee), also known as varenyky, or pedaheh are filled dumplings of Eastern European origin. They are made by wrapping pockets of unleavened dough around a savory or sweet filling and cooking them in boiling water. These dumplings are popular in Slavic (Polish, Slovak, Ukrainian, Russian), Baltic (Latvian, Lithuanian) and other Eastern European cuisines (such as Romanian), where they are known under local names. Pierogi are especially associated with Poland, Ukraine, and Slovakia, where they are considered national dishes.
Today I'm going to share the typical version that I make here at home.
Mix your cheese and potatoes and set aside while you prepare your dough.
I use my bread machine to mix my dough in the first stage before rolling out.
I whisk eggs, add salt and water then gradually add the flour until I feel the dough it the right consistency. The dough should have the feel of pizza dough, elastic but not wet. Work in a little extra flour if the dough it's too moist. (I do this last part by hand)
Cut your dough into 3 sections and put 2 into a bowl covered by a damp cloth so that the dough doesn't dry out. Use it when you're finished with the first or you can wrap it well and refrigerate it for later in the week or freeze it to use within the month. I've never frozen it, it doesn't last that long. I've done it with bread dough before in the past and it has worked like a charm.
Take your one portion and roll out onto floured surface making sure the dough is not too thick or thin. It will puff up a bit as it sits. I then take a small jam jar (4 oz) to cut my circles and set aside to be filled. You could use round cookie cutters or if you really want to get fancy you can order a pierogi press on-line or purchase one at a kitchen specialty store. I'm good with the old fashioned way.
When I worked at the gourmet pierogi shop, we used big stainless steel presses, 12 pierogi at a time! Less time consuming for sure.
Work the circle with your hands to flatten and stretch out the dough. Fill your pierogi dough but not too much. You don't want any potato touching the edges of the dough or the pierogi will not seal. I learned this the hard way when I thought they were sealed and opened up as soon as they touched the boiling water!
Once I fold the dough over, I pinch the edges with my fingers to seal it shut. Sometimes you might have to take your finger in a glass of water to lightly wet the inside edge of the pierogi to seal. Not always but you'll be able to tell. Once you have pinched one sufficiently closed, move onto the next pierogi. Come back to them all to see if they have sealed before you boil them! If they haven't, just a touch of water on your finger tip, rubbed on the inside of the pierogi and an extra few pinches and you should be good to go!
You can also use a fork but for me it's not necessary and even feels like an extra step I'm not interested in taking.
Drop your pierogi into salted boiling water and take them out when they float up to the top! Easy peasy!
Next you can put them out on a pan in rows so that you can freeze them without them sticking together. After about a half hour they should be ready to bag, depending on your freezer.
Start frying up your bacon, then add your onions and once they're browned up a bit, add the boiled pierogi to your pan and turn them over as they brown up nice and golden. Serve plain or with sour cream.
If you can get to the stage without eating at least one pirogi then you are doing far better than I ever have!
There a re a few variations that I like to make of pierogi when I'm at the end of my potatoes. Here's a few along with some others that I haven't tried yet.
Many a Baba and many a mother have toiled over a counter and stove to make their family pierogi. There have been whole days that I have set aside to make dozens upon dozens to freeze for later. So many times when I have planned those days, I end up with a house full and very little pierogi in my freezer!
The nice thing about making them now is that my family will join me and we'll form a bit of an assembly line. We do this with a few different dishes. Cabbage rolls are another assembly line family affair, as are pork and veal schnitzel on a stick. The latter is something I do maybe once a year and is something my Baba would make huge amounts for the local Slovak Hall. I'm grateful to my own mother for teaching me this recipe because it's one of my favorites. I'm also grateful I was able to figure out the pierogi from many trials and errors of my own.
So, it looks like I'm going to have to get on those cabbage rolls and schnitzel sooner than later and share that recipe here as well...
Whatever you're making for dinner tonight, make sure you don't forget to add several dashes of love to the mix, or else you won't get that authentic flavour that only love can add to a dish!
Recipes are going to vary from meals to medicines. It's all about healing from the inside out because we truly are what we eat. What's the point? Well, gardening and foraging for your own foods, shopping local and no processed garbage or pharmaceuticals for what ails you? I think that's enough of point, don't you?
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Your medicine is in the woods.
Your pharmacy is in your kitchen.