Perogie? Perogi? Pierogi? I still have no idea how to actually spell it but it’s been an important part of our family for years. You cannot have a family dinner or visit anyone without them being there. Everyone loves them, and they’re gone in an instant.
As with every passed down family recipe, I have no clue how to actually measure anything in this. It’s all done by taste, feel and a few shrugs. So, bear with me, be brave and give it a shot.
What you need:
- yukon gold potatoes (1 1/2 lb) HAS to be. My mother will be disappointed otherwise. Plus you need a waxy potato for this to have the right texture and flavour.)
- 1 cup sharp cheddar, grated
- butter 2 tbsp
- splash of cream or milk
- salt and pep to taste
- 4-5 cups flour
- 2 cups hot-ish water
Yes, that’s all that’s in the dough, trust me. First and foremost this is a post world war II times recipe from Poland. Shit was rough back then. But also, not having a binder like egg in the dough makes it feather light and ultra tender. Since pierogi are all about the filling anyway, you don’t need a tough chewy dough to get in the way.
- Start by boiling the potatoes until soft in a large pot of salted water. Drain and return to the pot and set on the turned off but still hot burner to allow potatoes to dry for a moment. You really need to make sure you don’t have wet-gloopy potatoes. It’ll make things difficult for you later.
- Remove from stove, add cheddar, butter and a splash of milk to potatoes while still hot and mash. Do not over mix, and be sparing with the liquid. You still want the mixture to be fairly dry, or at least enough to handle. Think of the texture of playdoh, maybe slightly softer.
Once cheese is melted and the potatoes are smooth, season to taste. You want this to taste like delicious cheesy mashed potato. Flavour it as if you were eating it as is. Set aside filling to cool as we work on the dough.
In a large bowl or on the counter top, place flour. Make a small well in the middle and slowly add water. Do NOT use all of the liquid. We’re going to gradually add it until we feel the dough is done. It will most likely not need all of it. But there’s been times where I’ve lazily measured flour or misjudged, so take your time. That being said it’s a very forgiving dough and you can always add more water or more flour if things seem too dry or wet.
Mix and gently knead dough, adding water as needed until you get a smooth but still slightly tacky dough. You don’t want it to stick to anything, but you also don’t want it tough and dry.
Cover dough with plastic wrap, and let it sit for at least 20 minutes, or as long as it takes the potato to cool to room temperature.
When we’re ready to form the pierogi, get yourself an assembly line of sorts ready. It is best to make/cook these in batches.
You’ll need a pot of water almost boiling (just leave it on medium), a slotted spoon or spider strainer, and a large bowl. (If you wish to freeze the pierogi or have them at a later time, a baking sheet with some parchment paper as well.)
Cut off a manageable piece of dough and cover the rest so it does not dry out. If you think you’re going to need some time to form your pierogi, work in smaller batches. You don’t want them to dry out as you’re working. If you’re struggling to roll out your dough and it seems to snap back, you haven’t let it rest long enough. Leave it. Go make a drink.
Roll the dough out to about 1/2 cm thickness. I was taught to just feel the dough, and if you can kind of feel the table through the dough it’s thin enough.
Using a cookie cutter or round glass, cut out as many discs as you can, set the extra dough aside to use later and be sure to keep it covered as well.
To form your pierogi place about 1 tbsp or so filling in the center and cradle gently between thumb and forefinger, with your opposite hand, gently press down with your index and push into a half crescent shape. If your filling is made correctly it will not stick to your hands and be easy to mould inside of the dough. Gently seal outer edges being careful not to allow any filling to creep in between. If you feel you wont be able to seal them, feel free to open it up and remove some filling, or gently stretch the sides of the dough to fit.
Place in a single layer on a surface lightly dusted with flour so they do not stick.
When you’re almost done your current batch, turn the pot of water on high and bring to a boil. Gently place pierogi in water and stir carefully with a wooden spoon. Be sure not to crowd your pot as you risk them sticking together.
They are done when they all float to the top! Remove pierogi from water and transfer to large bowl. Gently toss in butter or oil if you wish (use butter). These are now ready to eat!
I’m a purist when it comes to pierogi, so I prefer them as is, with some sour cream/bacon/onion as garnish. You can pan fry them if you wish, but traditionally that’s reserved for day old pierogi as a means to reheat. They are delicious that way as well, but there’s something to be said for incredibly tender, freshly made pierogi and I recommend you try it.
If you wish to freeze these, after cooking place them in a single later on a baking sheet and place level in freezer. Once frozen, transfer to plastic freezer bags. To reheat simply boil from frozen, pan fry or microwave.