pierogi, perogy, pyrohy… what’s in a name?

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summary: recipe for pierogies stuffed with potatoes and cheese; brief rant about daylight savings (click on image to see larger views and more photos)

pierogies I adore pierogies stuffed with potato and cheese and served with yoghurt and caramelized onions. Yes, there’s nothing more comforting than a pierogi! Or maybe you prefer to call it a perogy, pyrohy, raviolo, wonton, dumpling, or… well, whatever it is called, you’ve got to admit, it’s delicious!

Not long ago, we bought some really beautiful looking pierogies at one of the Polish delis. They were fabulous. But they were expensive too. Ridiculously expensive. Five times more expensive than “no name” frozen pierogies that are inferior in every other way except price.

And we got to thinking. How hard would it be to make pierogies from scratch?

As it turns out, they’re dead easy to make. Dead easy to cook. Dead easy to eat. And eat. And eat. (Did I mention that I adore pierogies?)

There are numerous recipes for pierogi dough on the internet, some calling for sour cream, some calling for potato water, some calling for oil. All of them call for flour and eggs. The dough appears to be pretty much like pasta dough. And the potato stuffing for almost all of them seems to be just mashed potatoes and cheese. What could be simpler?!

And of course, there are several YouTube videos devoted to pierogi making. One of my favourite parts of “Pierogi – Polish potato filled dumplings” is when the woman turns her head away from the camera to lick the sour cream off her finger – and then doesn’t say anything at all about it!! No slightly embarrassed smile. No “waste not, want not”. She just goes on with the task. Not that there’s anything wrong with licking the sour cream off of your finger; it’s just the sort of thing that you do when nobody’s looking… :-) I’m also very fond of the loud music in the background, the kid crying, the dog barking and her beatific smile as all that is going on. (Do watch it! Don’t forget to turn on your speakers.)

In all the recipes and videos, it appears that everybody boils pierogies, but we never have. We didn’t know we were supposed to. We’ve always just sauteed them in olive oil. Because ignorance is bliss and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing… or something.

So that’s what we continued to do. No need to fix something that ain’t broke. We don’t care if the pierogies split a little. What’s going to happen if they do? If the pierogi police come after us, we’ll just claim that these are dumplings not pierogies.

As you can imagine, homemade pierogies are far less expensive the storebought pierogies. The flavour and texture of the homemade pierogies are superior, not to mention that you know exactly what has gone into making them.

While it is not traditional, we added some whole wheat flour to the mixture for the dough. Also in the dough was home-made plain yoghurt (in place of sour cream). The resulting dough is quite soft and stretchy and very pleasing to work with. It does get sticky if it’s warm thought and it helps to have cool dry hands when forming the pierogies.

pierogies Making pierogies is a fun thing to do. As we made them, we thought this would be a great party activity. Some people could roll out the dough and everyone could punch out and stuff the pierogies. We each punched out rounds and formed one of the two finished pierogies here. As well as a plain round cutter, we used a biscuit cutter with fluted edges. This gave some of the pierogies attractive scalloped edges before being cooked (the edges pretty much disappear in the cooking).

Here’s how we made our pierogies:

Pierogies stuffed with Potatoes and Cheese

Potato Stuffing

  • 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes
  • seasalt and pepper
  • butter
  • cheese, chopped into small cubes

Pierogi Dough

  • 1¾ c all-purpose flour
  • ¼ c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp seasalt, or to taste
  • 2 Tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • water, if required

Garnish

  • onions, sliced
  • olive oil
  • plain yoghurt

preparation

  1. Potatoes: Boil UNpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes til tender. Drain (reserve the potato water for the dough). Mash the potatoes. Add butter, seasalt and pepper and mash a little more. Allow to cool. When the potatoes are cool to the touch, stir in the roughly chopped cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, farmers’… you choose) and set aside.
  2. Dough: In a medium sized bowl, stir flour and salt together. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the egg, yoghurt and butter. Add just enough COLD water (use potato water if you have it) to create a ball of dough. Knead the soft dough til it is smooth. Form into a ball. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for about an hour.
  3. Garnish: Heat oil in a cast iron pan. Caramelize the sliced onions. Remove from pan and set aside. DON’T wash the pan!
  4. Assembly: Lightly dust the counter with flour and place the ball of dough on top. Cut it in two. Cover one half with a clean damp tea towel. Using a rolling pin, roll out the other half into a thin round. (We thought it might be a good idea to use the handcrank pasta maker but the dough is too wet and sticky.)
  5. Cut rounds using a cookie cutter (about 2 inches in diameter). Fill each round with about a teaspoon of potato cheese mixture. Fold the dough into a half moon shape and pinch the edges together. If the dough feels sticky, flour your fingers. Put the finished pierogies in a single layer onto a tray or plate. Continue rolling and cutting and stuffing til all the dough is used. If there is any extra potato left, use it the next day for breakfast.
  6. Cooking: Put a little more oil in the cast iron pan and heat over medium heat. Lay the pierogies in a single layer in the hot oil and cook until golden brown. Turn each one and continue cooking til the other sides are golden as well.

Serve immediately with caramelized onions, plain yoghurt and steamed broccoli. Or with beet tops. I bet red cabbage would be good too.

Notes:

* Freeze uncooked pierogies in a single layer. Once they have frozen, they can be transferred into ziplock bags.

* it helps to have cool dry hands when forming the pierogies. Try not to overstuff them so that there is plenty of edge to pinch together.

Homemade pierogies with homemade yoghurt are perfect for soothing shattered nerves when winter WON’T end and bureaucratic morons insist that we all start saving daylight (what are we saving it for?! Can we take it out of the bank early without penalty and use it whenever we want?)

In fact, I think the interest rates on Daylight Saving aren’t good enough and have decided against opening an account this year. We should all do the same. Do you know ANYONE who likes Daylight Saving? Is there even one good reason for it to be imposed on us?

I know; it allegedly saves us money on our energy bills because we don’t have to turn on our lights so soon in the afternoon and evening (but nobody has mentioned anything about the fact that the lights have to be turned on for longer in the morning).

Here’s a big surprise: I think daylight saving is the stupidest invention of the 20th century. :stomp:

 

edit 30 June 2009: I just came across another pierogi dough recipe, along with several more spellings at eatingcleveland.com (2008/01/06/): “How to Make Perogie, Pierogie, Perogi, Perogy, Pirohi, Piroghi, Pirogi, Pirogen, Piroshke or Pyrohy”.

I do love that there are so many ways to spell the name for this fabulous dumpling!

This entry was posted in food & drink, main course, posts with recipes, vegetarian, whine on by .

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  • Rant on girl.
    I always find it funny how these very peasant traditional dishes somehow get twisted into something that it takes a genius to create and we ‘common’ cooks get it in our head we can’t do it only to find out it’s easy, fun and really much better than store bought! We’re pretty funny, people we are.
    Love pierogies or whatever you want to call them, call them good.

    As usual, you’re right, Tanna. It is pretty ridiculous when someone says “you made soup from scratch??” or “you made your own pastry?!”, isn’t it? – Elizabeth
     
    P.S. Oh, yes, one more thing: thank you for the permission to rant. Now if I could just figure out who all to contact to get rid of Daylight Saving (pfffttttt) once and for all….

  • Mats Flemstrom

    You are right about the video – cooking AND filming with a crew of ONE !!! Well done on her!

    Hilarious, isn’t it, Mats? -Elizabeth

  • Jude

    Your post reminds me of making empanadas with my mom. You’re right, it’s definitely a great group activity.

    Oooh, empanadas!! I hadn’t thought of trying to make those, Jude. What a great idea! What do you stuff your empanadas with? -Elizabeth

  • I`m going to try these, I`ve wanted to make perogies for ages, since we don`t have them in Guatemala. Back in Canada, they were a winter food staple!

    As for Daylight Savings, I never liked it and guess what? Here in Guatemala, it doesn`t exist. They did try it one year and everyone got so messed up they never dared to it again!