Pierogi are a household staple in our house. Dr. Lazy Palate grew up on these wonderful little pouches of goodness. In his hometown local eateries would sell these instead of French fries. The first time I had a pierogi was in his hometown at a local pizza shop. It was a wonderful pierogi filled with a buttery mashed potato. That started our journey into the wonderful world of making our own pierogi. We frequently make batches of pierogi and freeze them for parties or random snacks. Our favorite filling is mashed potatoes with cheese and bacon.
For this month’s Daring Cooks challenge Liz of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen challenged us to make pierogi. Since I already had experience making them, I decided to challenge myself and use a new dough recipe. My dough recipe is the same dough that used for my Santa Maria Empanadas. This time I chose to use a dough made out of milk, whipping cream, egg whites, salt, and flour. The dough was a lot heavier than I am used to using for my pierogi. I found that the dough was too much for my potato, cheese, and bacon filled pierogi. It made the pierogi too heavy. In other words you could not eat three pierogi in a sitting. Instead you could eat only one. Also, I found that the pierogi had to be fried. I generally stay away from frying things because it makes a mess in my kitchen and adds a lot of unnecessary fat. I think the dough works better for a sweeter desert pierogi.
For my filling I chose to use havarti cheese because it is a wonderful buttery cheese that melts well and complements the buttery flavor of Golden Yukon potatoes well. A starchy potato like Russet potatoes would make the filling less flavorful, so I would tend to use a more smooth and flavorful potato. I also add bacon to my pierogi because bacon makes almost everything taste great. A little bacon will go a long way to add some fun depth to the pierogi.
My advice when making a pierogi is to have fun with it. If you have a cheese that you really love in a fondue, then I would try it with potatoes in a pierogi. You can always add more flavoring like Worchester sauce or rosemary to change up the flavor of the pierogi and make it complement any meal that you are serving. I would also consider putting pie fillings inside the pierogi to make a fun bite size desert.
Listed below is my regular dough recipe with the potato filling recipe that I recommend. Next, is the new dough recipe with a blueberry filling that I recommend. Then, I give the instructions on how to assemble the pierogi and cook them (both recipes are assembled and cooked in the same way). Lastly, I included freezing instructions since pierogi do freeze so well.
Ingredients for my regular pierogi recipe (use for savory fillings) (makes 40 three inch pierogi)
3 cups of all purpose flour plus two tablespoons
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp of melted butter
1 large egg
1 tsp white vinegar
½ cup cold water
Directions for making the dough
1. In a medium sized bowl, beat the butter, eggs, vinegar, salt, and water.
2. In a large bowl add the 3 cups of flour. Then, slowly add the above mixture of liquid ingredients to the flour while stirring. Continue stirring until the dough becomes stiff. You may need to use an electric mixer to stir the dough as it gets stiffer.
3. Take the 1 tbsp of flour and lightly flour a flat surface. Take the dough and knead the dough on the floured surface for 2 minutes. If you find your dough too stiff, then add a little water. If you find your dough too loose, then add a little more flour.
4. Lightly dust a rolling pin with the remaining 1 tbsp of flour. Roll the dough into a very thin pancake.
5. Cut out 3 inch circles out of the dough. Reroll the remaining left over dough and cut out more 3 inch circles. Repeat the process until all the dough is used up.
Ingredients for Potato filling (makes about 40 pierogi)
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, skinned and chopped
3 tbsp milk (can be whole, 2%, or skim), more may be needed if potatoes are too dry
8 ounces Havarti cheese, shredded
4 strips bacon, crumbled
1. Boil potatoes in a pot of boiling water until soft (about 10 minutes).
2. Remove potatoes from water and mash. Add milk as needed to make the potatoes smooth.
3. Place mashed potatoes and cheese in a small sauce pot and heat until cheese is melted (about 3 minutes).
4. Remove mashed potatoes from heat and add crumbled bacon.
Ingredients for my the new dough recipe (use for sweet fillings) (makes about 40 three inch pierogi)
½ cup milk (can be whole, 2%, or skim)
½ cup whipping cream
3 large egg whites
1 tsp salt
3 cups all purpose flour
1. Mix flour and salt, add other ingredients, and knead dough until you have a smooth dough.
2. On a floured surface roll out fairly thin (1/8”), cut into 3” circles.
Ingredients Blueberry filling modified from Blue Book Guide to Preserving page 94 (makes about 4 pints of filling or enough to fill 64 pierogi)
12 cups blueberries
3 cups sugar
¾ cup cornstarch
1 tbsp grated lemon peel
¼ cup lemon juice
1. Wash and drain blueberries.
2. Combine sugar and cornstarch. Sit in blueberries; let stand until juice begins to flow about 30 minutes.
3. Add lemon peel and lemon juice.
4. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken.
5. Extra filling can be ladled into freezer bags (leave 1/2” headspace) and frozen for use in a pie or another desert later.
Ingredients for assembling the pierogi
Sweet or savory filling
Large saucepan of water with a pinch of salt
Large saucepan of neutral tasting oil such as canola or vegetable oil (optional)
Directions for assembling and making pierogi
1. Place 1.5 tsp of potato filling in the middle of the pierogi circles and fold the dough in half and pinch the edges together.
2. Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Return to boil and reduce heat. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more (usually about 5 minutes). Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi from the water.
3. OPTIONAL: Let the pierogi cool and fry in a large sauce pan of hot oil until the pierogi is golden brown in color (the pierogi pictured above is fried).
Directions for freezing pierogi
1. Flash freeze pierogi before boiling or after boiling (make the pierogi ‘al dente’ if you choose this option). To flash freeze, place the pierogi on a smooth surface such as a plate on a single layer in the freezer for 24 hours. After 24 hours, move the pierogi to freeze safe bags. Label and seal the bags. The pierogi can be kept for 3 months in the freezer.
2. To reheat the unboiled pierogi, place the pierogi directly from the freezer to a saucepan of boiling water and cook until ready to serve. To reheat already boiled pierogi, place the peirogi in a microwave and reheat on high for 30 seconds or until hot.
Posted on Ingredient Spotlight