By Beth Klemick
Of all Polish foods, by far the best known are pierogies. These culinary delights can be found ready made in almost any grocery store in the United States, offering quick and easy preparation by boiling them in water or, as an added bonus, sauté the boiled pierogies until golden brown.
For those who are more daring and wish to bring out the Polish chef in them here we have provided a homemade recipe for pierogies. For additional Polish delights, check out the Polana website The Polish Experience.
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons sour cream, buttermilk, or plain yogurt
1-cup water (more if required)
butter or oil
salt and pepper
1. Combine flour, half of the water, eggs, and the sour cream, buttermilk or yogurt in a large bowl. Stir vigorously to incorporate the eggs.
2. Slowly stir in the remaining water until dough begins to form. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently, lifting dough to stretch.
3. Continue lifting and stretching the dough until the dough is smooth and somewhat sticky inside, about 3 minutes or so. Do not overwork the dough – if it begins to become elastic, allow it to rest 5-10 minutes under an overturned bowl before working with it again.
4. When the dough has been kneaded enough, place in a storage bag in the refrigerator to rest 20 minutes, or leave on the counter under an overturned bowl 30 minutes, to allow any gluten which may have developed to rest.
While the dough is resting, you can prepare the filling.
3 medium or 2 very large waxy potatoes (baking)
3 T unsalted butter
1-2 T light olive oil (or schmaltz)
1 large onion, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cabbage, finely shredded
1 small leek, finely minced (optional)
2 T Parmesan or white cheddar cheese, grated
1. Cook the potatoes in their skins, in a covered heavy pot with barely enough water to cover them in slightly salted water (add about 2 tsp salt to the water). Simmer over low heat until potatoes are fork tender, then remove from heat. (If you can judge when they'll be done, remove from heat 10 minutes in advance and just allow to steam in the pot with the heat turned off).
2. Allow the potatoes to cool sufficiently to handle, and rub off the skins with a clean towel. Drain the pot you cooked them in, and return the potatoes to the pot and shake them around a bit to dry them.
3. Put the potatoes through a sieve or a potato ricer if you have one, otherwise, use a masher. Set them aside.
4. In a skillet, combine butter and oil or schmaltz over medium heat to melt. Sauté the garlic, onion, and leek for a few minutes until they begin to take on a translucent color.
5. Stir in the cabbage, turn the heat to high for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, reduce heat and allow cabbage to begin to brown, 6-8 minutes. Then add the potatoes, cheese, and season to taste. Remove from heat and go on to work with the dough again as the filling cools.
Putting the pierogies together
1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and form it into balls 1 1/2 to 2" in diameter. Roll each out with a rolling pin into a 3-3 1/2" round approximately 1/8 inch in thickness. Cover the ones you've made with a damp paper towel as you work. If you prefer, you can use a Kitchen Aid pasta roller attachment (or other pasta machine) to roll out the dough circles. Be sure to flour both sides lightly first.
2. Hold the dough in one hand, and place a round ball of filling or spoonful into the center. Fold in half to enclose the filling, and pinch the edges securely together. Don't allow filling to touch the edges to avoid an imperfect seal. Be sure there are no openings along the edges, or the filling will boil out.
3. Boil a large pot of salted water as you continue to fill the remaining pierogi until all the ingredients run out. As you work, place a sheet of waxed paper dusted lightly with flour or corn meal over and between the pierogi layers until ready to boil.
Gently lower pierogies into rapidly boiling water 3-5 at a time and cook for a few minutes until they float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and continue till all are cooked. Serve fresh with melted butter, or sauté in butter until lightly brown on outside.
* An alternative to cooking these in water is to boil them in the broth remaining from a boiled ham, or in chicken broth.
NOTE: If your pierogies are too doughy, you either rolled the dough circles so they were not thin enough, or if their thickness was correct, they may not have been evenly rolled or cooked sufficiently. The first attempt is not always perfect, but if you note where you could have done better, your next batch will be much improved