One of my earliest memories has to do with the church. (Of which I am now not really a part of because, although I believe in God, homegirl never attends a service and has come to find a lot wrong with her religion as she has grown older.)
I attended the yearly making of the pierogies since I was young enough to be left laying in a pile of parish members’ coats at one end of the church hall while my mom and dad helped out, with people coming over to watch me, play with me, and feed me potato and cheese filling.
As I got older I learned the process, from the circular cutting of the dough to the precise pinching needed to close the whole thing off and even the packaging of a dozen at a time.
To say I was confident going into making my own pierogies from scratch was an understatement. It was in my blood, wasn’t it? I have to say – they didn’t come out half bad. I may cook them a little longer next time is all.
I say “I can make dough” to people and it’s all “OH MY GOD.” Look. It’s not that scary. If I can do it, you can too. This dough recipe from My Gourmet Connection is so easy to do. Just remember – flour. Lots of it. This yield about 3 and a half dozen ‘rogies, and all my little added remarks are in red.
- 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 3/4 to 1 cup water
- In a large bowl or mixer combine the flour, eggs, sour cream and 1/2 cup of water. Beat the eggs as you mix and gradually add the rest of the water until the mixture is combined.
Turn the dough onto a well floured surface. Knead it gently, using a dropping technique (lift the dough from the surface and drop it down). Knead only until the ingredients are blended and the dough is smooth and slightly sticky, about 3 to 5 minutes. Be prepared to have messy hands, hence the flour to make it less sticky. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
That’s part of what took me back to those church days – the smell of the flour and dough, remembering using circular cutters to make each pierogie the same perfect size (with little cushions on the top of each metal cutter, because hands get tired and sore after doing, like, 100 circles), sitting on the steps in the back of the hall with my best friend eating a bowl of the potato and cheese filling. Which also, mmmm.
- 1-1/2 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3/4 to 1 cup grated dry farmer’s cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Put the potatoes in a medium pot and add just enough cold, salted water to cover them. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
While the potatoes cook, melt the butter and oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. I roll sans onion but if you use it add it now with the garlic and thyme, cooking until the onion turns translucent, about 2 minutes.
Lower the heat and continue cooking until onions caramelize slightly, about 20 minutes. You may need to add a bit more butter as the onion and garlic mixture cooks. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool.
When the potatoes are soft, drain them in a colander and lightly press out the remaining moisture. Look, I had no idea how much moisture potatoes can hold, but it is a LOT. drain the shit out of them. Return them to the pot, remove from heat and add the cooled onion mixture and the cheese. Mash them just until blended and large lumps are gone. Season again with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool while you roll out the pierogi dough.
And then, of course, you put ‘em all together.
It says to start boiling your water now, but I waited until I was done assembling all the pierogies becaus it took a while. Also, they explain how to get nice little circles another way, but I’ll tell you mine.
Break off a good chunk of dough and roll it out onto a floured surface, making sure it ends up being thin. (Thick dough makes the pierogi heavy.) To cut out circles I simply used the business end of a martini glass, that way they’re uniform sizes.
Cover the finished rounds with a damp towel so they don’t dry out while you’re working.
Once your rounds are rolled out, hold each in the palm of your hand, filling the center of it with a generous tablespoon of the potato mixture. Gently fold the round in half, pulling the edges away and pinching them firmly shut to enclose the filling. Be sure the edges are sealed by working from one end to the other. To really seal mine, and make them somewhat pretty, I pressed the tongs of a fork into the dough.
As you work, set your filled pierogi aside on a floured surface and cover them with plastic wrap.
Working in batches, drop no more than 6 pierogi at a time into the boiling water. After they float back to the surface, allow them to cook another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove the pierogi with a slotted spoon and place on a towel to drain and cool.
There is a yummy sour cream and garlic-chive sauce to top this off that’s easy and full of flavor. This makes two cups.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1-3/4 cup chicken broth (either homemade or low-sodium)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup chives
Heat the butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly until it softens and begins to turn a very light golden color. Be careful not to allow it to crisp or brown. Add the flour, and continue stirring until it is well incorporated into the butter and garlic. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the flour begins to turn golden yellow.
Gradually begin stirring in the chicken broth, blending it with the flour mixture until the sauce is smooth, creamy and thickened. Add the salt and pepper, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Whisk in the sour cream and blend until smooth. Add the fresh chives just before serving.
And finally, to finish it all off, throw some butter in a pan and saute the ‘rogies until they’re slightly crispy, then throw ’em on a plate and top ’em with the sauce. Mmmmm.