We all look for simple recipes, right?
I know that when I search for something to make, I look for words like “Quick,” “Easy,” “Fast,” … you get the idea.
Some recipes, though, take time. You can’t simplify them and expect a good result. Pierogi is one of those foods that you can’t rush; I’m guessing that is why store-bought pierogi sell well, although they taste nothing like homemade.
When I first attempted homemade pierogi, my grandmother was still alive. She was the taste-tester most important to me. I had such trouble, my dough was stiff and hard to roll out, the filling popped out when I boiled the dumplings, the presentation was kinda lumpy and ugly.
My grandmother suggested that my dough was rolled too thin. Well, that was good, because it was difficult to roll that dough. I watched her as she made her dough. She didn’t use measuring cups! How was I going to reproduce that?
Since then, I’ve experimented to come up with some fairly good measurements. But, the truth for any dough is that you must develop a feel for when it is right, slowly adding flour and kneading to get the correct consistency. Humidity and air temperature affect the result. Pierogi dough should be a bit sticky and elastic when you finish kneading it — and you do need to knead it (ha).
As you work through this recipe, add flour slowly and stop when the dough is still wet but can be worked. Keep track of your measurements, but realize that those variables can change next time. Don’t be tempted to let the mixer do all of the work. You must get a feel for the dough. That’s why my Babci didn’t need measuring cups. She knew when it was perfect!
Pierogi with Potato and Cheese
(makes about 2 dozen)
2 T. melted butter
1/2 c. sour cream
2 1/2-2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 lb. large curd cottage cheese, drained
2 boiling potatoes
1/4 c. fresh, coarsely chopped mint leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in the microwave. Measure sour cream and put in stand mixer bowl. Add eggs and beat with mixer paddle until blended. Add in butter and continue to mix.
Measure out 1 cup of flour and add to the mixing bowl. Beat until incorporated with the wet ingredients, then add the second cup. Continue adding the remaining flour, stopping when the dough is still wet but can be worked with your hands.
Turn dough out onto a marble/granite surface or a floured surface. Knead until dough becomes stretchy and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest while you make the filling.
To make the filling, peel and quarter the potatoes, and boil until fork tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes and then mash lightly with a fork.
Drain the cottage cheese to remove excess liquid. Mix into the mashed potatoes. Add beaten eggs, the chopped mint, and salt and pepper to taste.
Now, you are ready to assemble: Pull off a piece of dough and roll it to about 1/4 inch thick.
Place about 2 T. filling on the dough. Fold the dough over the filling to make a pocket.
Use a flour coated cup, or a tart press, to cut out the dumpling. Pinch the edges of the dumpling closed to secure the filling.
I like to let the pierogi sit on the counter for about half an hour to “dry.” I think that this makes them hold together better when you boil them.
Next, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a few pierogi at a time to the boiling water. Stir gently so that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
Boil for about 3 minutes, then remove, with a slotted spoon, to a colander. Continue with the remaining pierogi.
Let the cooked pierogi cool in a single layer out on the countertop.
Now, you can fry them in butter (I like to add onion, too), or freeze them for later.
If you freeze them, you can fry them when they are partially defrosted so that the dough doesn’t get too sticky.
That’s it! None of this is difficult, but it does take time. You can make the dough and refrigerate it, and make the filling another day, if that takes some of the pressure off! However you choose to tackle this special family recipe, you’ll be glad you made your own pierogi from scratch!
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