Thursday, December 10, 2009

Polish Grandmothers and the Pure Joy of Pierogi

I like cheese, I love pasta, and I adore mashed potatoes, so you can image the pure bliss I experience when I get to eat pierogi. They very well may be my favorite non-meat food.

Pierogi are a classic Eastern European potato and cheese stuffed dumpling traditionally made for festivals and celebrations.

There are thousands of versions using different fillings, dough, and garnis
hes, but this one made for an About.com assignment is fairly typical.

Above and beyond the ingredients, there are also many different ways to engineer the dish. You can make a few big ones, or lots of tiny ones (guess which is easier). You can use lots of stuffing, or just a little. You can boil and toss in melted butter, or you can fry to get a crispy crust as I did here.

My grandmother Sophie, on my father's side of the family, was from Poland, and every time we would drive to New York for a visit, the highlight of the trip was a big plate of her pierogi.

The fact that the trip was seven hours, in the back of a station wagon, in the middle of summer, with no air conditioning, with my father chain-smoking the entire trip, did nothing to diminish my joyous anticipation.

I hope you give these pierogi a try. These would make a great snowy, or rainy day project, and they can be made ahead and fr
ozen for future use. Enjoy!

Note: This video was shot for About.com, so when you click on the video below, you'll be taken to the recipe page there.




















Filling:
1 pound russet potato
1/2 diced onion
2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Dough:
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
pinch of salt
1 cup flour, plus more as needed

Butter to fry in, sour cream and chive to garnish

37 comments:

soph30 said...

Oh I love pierogies, I've always just eaten the frozen ones, and I'm excited to try my hand at some homemade ones with this recipe.

Lucia said...

What would you use instead of sour cream. They have it in Belgium but I haven't seen it in France. I was thinking Normandy's creme fraiche but it seems quite stiff and rich compared to sour cream.

Chef John said...

Yes, use CF. It will become runny when you stir it. But thick is OK. Or use plain yogurt

Johnnie said...

Those look delicious. Too bad they couldn't be converted into Vegan pierogies. **sigh**

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit said...

Mmm! Pierogis! Wonderful: you've just reminded me of one of my favourite foods (and I haven't eaten any for a year or more! Criminal!).

Pam said...

Loved the travel story about the trip to Grandmother Sophie's. You must really enjoy Pierogi, Chef John!

My 5 year old Grandson and I "cheated" and made them with won-ton wrappers from the store.

ps: He ate ELEVEN of the pierogi we made!

Anonymous said...

I've never grated ricotta before - seems like it would be a bit, ummm, messy.

danijel said...

Oh, I didn't know Mitzewich was Polish! Is it by any chance an American form of "Mickiewicz"? (one of the greatest Polish poets for people that don't know)

ed said...

hi john! my friends mom (wroclaw,poland)wil kill you!....you do not fry the pierogi! you onley cook it and serve it with cream...just cream.
and you can fill then also with musrooms and cabbage.
and for me? fry them..i don`t mind.
;-)

Chef John said...

What? Tell your mother she's nuts. ;-)

Basia said...

I absolutely BEG you to try these with fruit filling! I make them with canned plums (because I like prunes ok, but srsly folks...). Reconstituted dried fruits are a less common but still authentic filling - and a delicious change of pace.

Also, since I never seem to roll dough thinly AND evenly, I resorted to my fondant rolling pin http://is.gd/5jZlq for help. Works like a charm!

Kathy S said...

oooh yum! I have the joy of spending hours making pierogi this Christmas. my filling is potato and cottage cheese. what my family does is boil them and eat them with either sour cream or mushroom sauce. and we fry left over ones the next day. would love it if you had more Polish recipes on your site :-) I knew there had to be some Polish in you Chef John.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Chef John, I'm not sure where to post this but I need your expert opinion. What brand, or model even, would you recommend for a good quality Belgium waffle maker?

Chef John said...

Sorry i dont have a Belgium waffle maker, but u can check the ratings on Amazon.

Anonymous said...

uh... funny thread )

Anonymous said...

Chef John, you read my foodwish mind! -Jesse from Detroit

Jim said...

You can grate ricotta salata, which is a salty hard cheese. Is that what you meant, Chef John??

Chef John said...

No, just ricotta. Typo.

JFK said...

If you want to freeze some for future use, at what point do you freeze them, before or after boiling?

Anonymous said...

Can you use regular potatoes instead of Russet? (I have lots of regular ones)

stira said...

tasty -tasty. it's probably one of the most popular ukrainian dishes.

however, in Ukraine we only fry pierogi if there are leftovers for the next day. normally we just boil them and serve. but fried ones are evreyone's favorite anyway :)

Chef John said...

any potato will work

Chef John said...

i like to freeze after boiling.

wdbnk said...

My son and his fiancee used your recipe Christmas Eve...he felt his came out "tough"...too much flour? Any suggestions?

Chef John said...

the texture is pretty tough, but you can roll thinner and use less flour

Tomasz said...

Hi,
my name is Tomek and I'm from Poland.
Pierogi (it's plural) come form Poland and we call it Russian Pierogi for Pierogi with patato and cheese:)
The recipe and video is great but one thing - cheese inside of Pierogi is a kind of cottage cheese which is very popular in Eastern Europe, we just call it "white cheese".
Anyway there are lot of different Pierogi: salty (e.g. chees & patato, meat, mushrooms, meat, sauerkraut, sauerkraut & mushrooms) and sweet (r.g. strawberries, blueberry)
Bon appetite ;)

Rachel said...

Oh YUM! I LOVE perogies! Since moving to Phoenix, AZ hardly anyone i came across knew what these beauties even were! YOu can only buy small frozen boxes of them in the store near me, but this looks incredible. Sounds like i'm going to have to try this one out!

Tim said...

Thanks for posting these! I am half-Ukrainian, my mom is 100%. We call these Pedaheh and my mom possesses the recipe that came straight from the Ukraine. She also makes something called padeek (I couldn't find the spelling) in which she stuffs the potato mixture inside bread dough and then we slather butter on it. Also, I loved the pedaheh deep fried! I can't wait to compete with this against her version when I go back home to visit! Thanks!

Anita said...

I've just been searching for some polish recipes - thanks for posting this one - it looks great!

Anonymous said...

I actually made these just yesterday and they were AWESOME!
Thanks for the easy recipe!

Anonymous said...

Hello from Poland,

I can't just go over with this one - Those are RUSSIAN pierogi! (Ruskie pierogi!). It has nothing to polish versions AT ALL! Polish are with pork or sauerkraut/mushrooms, or berries for example. Ruskie are probably descendant of kopytka? ;P Who knows...

By the way for all of those that do not understand polish - pierogi are in PLURAL so not "pierogis" or "pierogies", but simply pierogi. There is no singular version of this word ;-P

Nevertheless, I like the site. I dug it qite often to learn how to make a good bread. None of the recipes exactly made me happy, but I learned much and eventually done it by myself, similar. Same about pizza and some other, big thanks for good cooking school. It's already much of teaching, but would be nice to hear more stories around all you are doing.

Have a nice blog, or something ;)

Илья Вялков said...

We call it Varenyki in Russia. If you ask for a pierogi at a restaurant, you will get a pie :-)

Best regards from Siberia

Krzysztof said...

ed was right.. you only cook and serve with sour cream or natural yogurt and fried onion but next day when some left is better to fry them and they also good. there is 2nd most popular recipe of pierogi mushrooms and cabbage or only mushrooms.
http://www.mojegotowanie.pl/pierogi/pierogi_z_grzybami //u cas use translator
BTW. to make original pierogi u use a cottage cheese

greetings from Poland :D

Krzysztof said...

ed was right.. you only cook and serve with sour cream or natural yogurt and fried onion but next day when some left is better to fry them and they also good. there is 2nd most popular recipe of pierogi mushrooms and cabbage or only mushrooms.
http://www.mojegotowanie.pl/pierogi/pierogi_z_grzybami //u cas use translator
BTW. to make original pierogi u use a cottage cheese

Great blog Chef John.
Greetings from Poland :D

Axel14222 said...

I made these tonight and they were pretty good. I think I need to practice a bit more though. The dough seemed a bit tough to me. I cheated and used one of those hinged pierogi presses. The potato filling was good enough to serve as a side. Mine was a bit thin, so I added potato starch to thicken it a bit. Also, I filled some of the pierogi with leftover sauerkraut that had been braised with onion, apple, caraway, brown sugar and chicken stock. That type of pierogi filling is very common here in Buffalo.

Gerry Granatowski said...

My father was Polish and he made great pierogi. I never got to watch him make them because he would put them together before I got home from doing my paper route after school. Anyway, Chef John inspired me to try making them and I'm glad I did. I knew how to make various fillings, but the dough was a mystery and recently I got a super simple recipe for pierogi dough. Add 1/2 real sour cream to 3/4 cup of flour. Keeping mixing until you get a smooth and soft dough...you're going to think it doesn't work but keep at it for about 2 minutes. Makes a wonderful dough and with a 4 inch cutter you should get about 10 pierogi. I use a water glass to cut the rolled out dough and got a dozen. BTW - roll the dough very thin so you really enjoy the filling of choice.

Gerry Granatowski said...

My last post should have specified "1/2 cup of sour cream" - sorry.