Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Yes, Pierogies Are Very Easy to Make

There is a reason almost every ethnic group has a filled pocket dough recipe; it is inexpensive to make.  Growing up, who didn't have some flour, eggs, potatoes, onions and cheese in the pantry?  These staples were around even when the shelves seemed a little bare at the end of the month.

I have been going through my Mother-in-law's recipe box and word processing her favorite recipes for my children.  My MIL had four different pierogi recipes!  I used the clean card, brown card method for determining her recipe's value.  Clean card meant she never used the recipe.  Brown card meant it was held, used, filed, used, etc. with additions of a little flour or oil on some occasions.  My MIL had several recipes from her Mom and other relatives and parishioners at St. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Church.  But while I wrote these out for my kids, I'm going to pass along the recipe my family used when I was growing up.

My mother never got the family recipe from my Ukrainian grandmother.   Instead, she got the recipe from a Polish neighbor, Mrs. Horschak.  It is easy, never fails, and much tastier than any frozen pierogies from the store.  So here is what I believe to be the best recipe for potato and cheese pierogies:

Start by making the filling.
Peel and cook 4 medium potatoes.  Drain water and put potatoes through a ricer.  (Using a ricer rather than mashing your potatoes makes a more uniform filling.)  Stir together with  4 - 6 ounces of grated cheese.  Use any kind of cheese you have a preference for or left in the refrigerator.  The last time I grated a combination of Colby and Monterey Jack and it was quite tasty.  Growing up, Velveeta was tossed into the potatoes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now for the dough.

Take three cups of flour and add 2 beaten eggs.

Mix well with a fork until the eggs are blended thoroughly in the flour.

Add 1 cup of cold water and work the dough until it holds together and is of kneading consistency.

Take 1/2 of the dough and roll on a lightly floured board to about 1/4" thickness.

Cut the rolled out dough with a 2" circle.  (I don't have a 2" cutter, so I usually grab a cup out of the cupboard - it works fine.)

Scoop about a tablespoon of your potato cheese filling in the center of each dough circle.  Work quickly!  Fold the circle in half and prick the outside edges with a fork, both the front and the back to seal the filling inside the dough pocket.

I dust them with a little bit of flour if sticky and set aside while rolling out the other half of  your dough.

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add some vegetable oil as this will keep the pierogies from sticking together and add pierogies (I did about six at a time because my pot was small).  Stir while cooking so they don't stick on the bottom of your pan.

When the pierogies come to the top of the water, boil for an additional 2 minutes.  Transfer with a slotted spoon to a strainer.  

That's it!  I prefer to eat my pierogies sauteed in butter and onions and served with a dollop of sour cream. This recipes makes approximately 3 dozen pierogies and takes about 1 1/2 hours from start to finish.

Just try it once and I bet you'll never buy pierogies again!  :)

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