Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Homemade Pierogi Recipe!

Yesterday was Samhain, a holy day on this farm I have celebrated with friends since college. The main event is a silent meal called Dumb Supper. Friends come and sit around a table only lit by candles and oil lamps. Music is playing, but always something meditative and calming. (Here that means songs like Iron and Wine's Dead Man's Will or the like.) Everyone brings their own meal, but it isn't potluck style. The meal is made in memory of a specific person - so it's their famous dish or favorite food. Sometimes it is elaborate, sometimes it is simple. I have had guests bring nothing but an orange soda or a bag of oyster crackers. The point is less of the food and more of the story, because after the candlelit meal is eaten in total silence, everyone willing shares what they brought and why. Memories of the dead are brought back to life through the culture of food. It's a beautiful way to keep them alive.

I decided to tackle the pierogi, a food my Slovak grandmother and her parents before her grew up eating. I also grew up around a lot of Ukrainians, Polish, and Germans and everyone seemed to know some version of this perfect treat. The filling is what always changed. I always had them with a basic mashed-potato filling. They were usually boiled and served with brown butter. Growing up this was one of my favorite foods and I associate it with home above all other dishes. It was so popular that during our town's annual festival local churches sold them frozen by the dozen so people who didn't want to make them from scratch could have them for big holidays ahead.

How to make Homemade Pierogi. 
The pierogi is an Eastern European potato dumpling. You can boil them or fry them (I suggest both actually). This is an adaptation of a recipe I found online and failed at because I am horrible at following directions. Today I retried it and nailed it using my gut, tasting everything as I went, and adding more egg, butter and oil. The recipe is two parts: filling and dough.

8oz container of Sour Cream
2 tablespoons of butter (melted)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons veggie oil.
3 eggs
4 cups of white flour
salt and pepper

5-6 medium sized potatoes
1 stick of butter
salt and pepper
optional: diced onions or cheese

Make the Filling First
For the filling just make some basic mashed potatoes. I skinned, diced, and boiled 5/6 medium sized white potatoes. I strained them when soft, mashed them up, added a whole stick of butter and salt and pepper to them. Taste the mashed potatoes when you make them. It is okay if it feels too rich, it is meant to be a filling inside dough in small tablespoons at a time. If you're crazy add some diced onions or cheese to this. I don't suggest adding meat. This is a killer vegetarian dish (not vegan), and hearty enough to satisfy a carnivore like me. Stick this in the fridge to cool down while you make the dough.

Take the sour cream, the melted butter, veggie oil, and 3 eggs and whip them together in a bowl and set them aside. In another, larger bowl take the 4 cups of flour, about 2 teaspoons of salt, and the baking powder and mix them together. Add the whipped wet stuff to the dry flour bowl.  Mix by hand until you have playdoh-textured dough. Set is aside for 15 minutes to think about its life choices. Pour yourself a drink and forget about yours.

Making the Dumplings
Now all you need to do is get some of that dough in your hands. You need to roll it flat - and while you can take it all and use a whole table making a sheet of dough ready to cut into circles to make the dumplings - I suggest taking a ping-pong sized handful of dough and rolling it flat one at a time. Take those little circles and place a spoonful of your mashed filling inside. Fold them over like tiny calzones and pinch them shut. I use a fork to decorate and seal the edges as well. This is an important step to make sure they don't open up later.

Put a lightly-salted pot of water on the stove and get it boiling. Drop in just one or two dumplings at a time. Let them boil just until they float to the top. I am talking like 2 minutes. If you let them soak like a murdered lobster they become slime balls. Take out with a slotted spoon. Set aside boiled dumplings. They can cool for a little and dry off.

Get out a frying pan and put some veggie oil in it. Turn up the heat and get the oil hot and poppin' and GENTLY add the (now cooled and dryish) dumplings and fry till lightly browned. Set aside, once cooled you can freeze them for easy fast-food later this winter or eat them all like a possessed werewolf like I do.

If you are ready to eat, set on plate, salt as desired.  Want to do it right? Pour browned butter over them serve with fried onions! Your life is now changed forever. You are welcome.


Blogger bookkm said...

I like my pierogies deep fried, the way they serve them at the local fairs down here - salted, BUT I have eaten them with vinegar. I have never tried to make them from scratch. Mrs. T's are pretty good and readily available. Eastern European ravioli! I'll be back for this recipe. Thanks, Jenna.

November 2, 2016 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Geeka said...

My little polish grandma used to make pierogi and chryschki at her kitchen table, and I love both. Add a slice of cheese to the filling to make it even better. Yum!
I'm from the neck of the woods that has more freezer space in the store dedicated to pierogies than pizza. (Although, I'm not a fan of the prune ones, ugh).

November 2, 2016 at 5:51 PM  
Blogger sash said...

What a neat annual ritual you have!

November 2, 2016 at 6:07 PM  
Blogger Shelley said...

I attempted to make pierogis last night and tried to halve the recipe - but didn't do that consistently - so will try again tonight using your dough. The potatoes and cheese etc turned out fantastic so still have that in the fridge. I think more wine would help the process along. Thanks Jenna!

November 3, 2016 at 9:25 AM  
Blogger elsie said...

Pierogis were always one of the big treats when we went to visit family in north central PA. Pierogis, pizelles, and the attention of all those wonderful older ladies of the family made those visits super special. The aunties and grannies were knitting and crocheting us slippers and mittens over the course of a long weekend visit - they couldn't start them early because who knew how big those hands/feet were until they arrived and for them a couple pairs of kid things were what you whipped out between breakfast and lunch.

I can't wait to try to make these. I expect they won't last long in my house. I put the onion in the butter and fry them after boiling.

November 4, 2016 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Sprite said...

Thank you for sharing! Ever considered compiling a cookbook? I'd buy that. "Cold Antler Feasts" maybe? :-)

November 4, 2016 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger ebwhite said...

The pierogis were delicious -- I added lots of parsley from my garden to the mashed potatoes along with the butter. Definitely will make these again. One addition to your recipe please. How big are the circles of dough when you roll them out? Mine were 7-8 inches which seemed a bit large - yes? No? Cheers, ebw

November 8, 2016 at 9:38 PM  

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