Saturday, January 2, 2010

A great tradition: Pierogi making!

Pierogis have a long history in my family, as in many families that have Eastern European blood of some sort flowing through their veins. Known by many names (Wikipedia's entry has perogi, pierogi, perogy, pirohi, piroghi, pirogi, pirogen, pierogy, pirohy and pyrohy all listed as acceptable), it's a basic, but heavenly, dumpling that is boiled and then sauteed and oh-so-thoroughly enjoyed. If you're interested in knowing more about the Eastern Eurpopean dumpling phenomenon, there's a wealth of information available, most able to easily bankrupt whatever New Year's resolutions you might be attempting...

I am lucky to have a couple of friends of similar "background" (ie, Canadian) living in Walla Walla, and for the past seven years we have made a holiday tradition out of making pierogis in a big batch and taking home happy zip-locs full of the frozen bounty to tide us through the winter months. It has been acknowledged that as a group, we are classic pierogi hoarders, and often save our little treasures as far into the winter as possible.

This year, however, my batch was gone within a week or two of having made them! Husband and I had a lovely meal or two, and then my brother and family came for our annual festive holiday kick-off, and I cooked up the rest and sent leftovers home with them. So I'm thinking that we need to have another pierogi fest again soon, girls!

And, a confession right off the bat. These are not my grandmother's pierogis. So any relatives reading this, I apologize. In her height of pierogi-making, Grandma Kandt's finesse with the dough was unparalleled. If, dear relative readers, you find our Kitchen Aid methods repugnant, ah well. Somehow you'll find a way to deal with it.

Below is the recipe we've been using for all these seven years. I found it way back when on epicurious, and haven't done much exploring since. In my wanderings around YouTube looking for a pierogi tutorial that would spell it out simply and make sense in a concise and visually pleasing way (this does not exist, currently, to the best of my research, but if you want to see girls dancing to Lady Gaga while making pseudo-pierogi-making moves, that IS available), I found a number of variations on the dough that I think I will try in the future... But for now, here's how we've been rollin'.

Pierogi dough
1 cup all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading and rolling
3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising) (I have used cake flour for the whole recipe and it gives a nice result)
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water

Stir together flours in a bowl. Make a well in flour and add eggs, salt, and water, then stir together with a fork without touching flour. Continue stirring, gradually incorporating flour into well until a soft dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead, adding only as much additional flour as needed to keep dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. (Dough will be soft.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature at least 30 minutes.

Now comes the part where we go all new-school on an old-school recipe. I divide the dough up into batches (we have usually at least tripled the above recipe, so I divide each third into sixths) and start with the pasta attachment on the Kitchen Aid at the widest level. After patting out the dough into a rectangle, I send it through each descending level on the attachment until it is at the next-to-thinnest level. If you go too thin too fast, you'll get nothing but a bunch of ripped dough... I would know. But over time, I have learned to slow down, go figure.

Now the dough is ready to stuff.

Then the cutting begins. As you'll see by the photo below, we're not overly concerned with the look of the individual pierogi--round, square, rectangular, it's all good. As we know from experience, once boiled and sauteed and sauced, it tastes just wonderful, whatever the shape.

Our fillings vary. We've stepped out and done the sauerkraut thing, but that particular filling is enjoyed by a minority in all households, so we gave that a pass this year. Usually we have potato and cottage cheese, and potato and cheddar cheese... and maybe some potato and onion. Historically, we have had an uncanny ability to make enough filling to meet the needs of our dough, almost exactly. (Uh oh, now I've jinxed it and we'll be way off next time...).

Once we have cookie sheets full of the little dumplings, we freeze them for a while so that when they go into their respective zip-locs, they won't stick together. This works, mostly.

And, of course, we have to eat as we work, so there's usually a pot of boiling water on the stove and some willing perogies take a quick dip and are then joined with a sour cream and sauteed onion sauce. This gives us strength to keep making more perogies!

I did find this wonderful ad for a pierogi maker (also while I was trolling around YouTube). I thought I'd spare you the 10-minute how-to videos with bad sound and wonky visuals and just make a plug for Hunky Bill's pierogi maker, so that even if you don't have a Kitchen Aid, you too could make pierogis at home!

How about that wink? Love it.

I'm ready for another pierogi-making party, soon!


  1. Oh my word...we just had lunch a short while ago but I could do a pierogi feed right now! Wonderful!

  2. Thanks for the link to my blog, Shirlee. I enjoy yours also. If you're looking for a great pierogi-making video, here's one:
    And here's my step-by-step instructions for making pierogi:

    Barb Rolek, Guide to Eastern European Food,


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