HOMEMADE PIEROGI: History, Fun Facts and Gram's Authentic Recipe
What is Pierogi, Pirohi, Pyrohy, Pirogi, Pierogie?
No matter what spelling variant you use, you must try an authentic homemade Pierogi!
A pierogi is unleavened dough that is traditionally stuffed with mashed potato filling and/or other ingredients such as cheese, sauerkraut, cabbage, mushrooms, spinach, ground beef and even fruit for a dessert version depending on the cook's preferences. They are then boiled, baked or fried.
Pierogi are usually semicircular, but are rectangular and triangular in some cuisines. The concept is similar to the Italian ravioli and the Chinese potsticker.
HAVE YOU EVER ATE A PIEROGI?
Where Did Pierogi Originate?
Researching the history of pierogi is a difficult task as many ethnic groups claim to be the birthplace of the pierogi. Therefore, its origins are not easily traced yet it has been widely accepted as being Polish. I agree, because my Polish Grandmother made the BEST Pierogi and therefore, I am most familiar with pierogi as a Polish tradition.
Grandma’s favorite pierogi fillings included mashed potatoes, cheese & onions and mashed potatoes & sauerkraut; boiled and then fried in real butter, onions and salt; then topped with sour cream. Yum, yum, yum! She also made prune pierogi for those who liked (or needed) to eat prunes.
The Polish word pierogi is plural. The singular form of the word is pierog. To me, that just sounds silly. “I ate a pierog for lunch today.” Seriously, who eats just one pierog??? Not anyone in my family!
The United States has the most developed pierogi market because it was the destination of choice for the majority of Eastern European immigrants prior to, and during, World War II. (Canada was second.)
I do realize that not everyone knows what a pierogi is . . . but not here where I live in Ohio. Within walking distance is a neighborhood recently dedicated as Ukrainian Village. And then there is nearby Slavic Village. And so many other ethnic neighborhoods that you don’t have to go far to find a variation of this dough filled treat.
Pierogi are a staple offered at ethnic church carnivals, bazaars, fundraisers and bingo nights. And they are a popular side item with fish-fry dinners during the Lenten season.
Don't Miss This Special Event!
Whitting, Indiana’s Annual Pierogi Fest held annually the last full weekend in July. There are tons of fun activities including a Polka Parade, a Mr. Pierogi songfest, a pierogi toss, a pierogi eating contest, and more. They even have a Polish Idol singing contest where contestants choose from a preapproved list of songs all about food. This festival draws almost 200,000 people each year! CHECK IT OUT http://www.pierogifest.net/
Did You Know?
- Pierogi have been made in Poland since the 13th century.
- The word pierogi first appeared in Polish literature in the second half of the 17th century and was prepared only for holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
- Ted Twardzik Sr. founded Mrs. T’s Pierogies October 8, 1952, producing the first samples for a local grocery store. Mrs. T’s remains the largest producer of (frozen) pierogi in the U.S. (although I am positive that the commercial versions are not the same as Grandma’s)
- Pierogi became a popular “food for athletes” when Paula Newby-Fraser claimed them as her food of choice in the 1980’s while preparing for the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. Many athletes began using pierogi as an alternative to boost their carbohydrate intake.
- There really is a Mrs. T – Ted’s Mother, Mary Twardzik.
- According to Mrs. T’s, there is a geographical region dubbed the “Pierogi Pocket” which makes up approximately 68% of pierogi consumption in the U.S. This pocket includes New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Chicago, Detroit, parts of the northern Midwest and southern New England.
Pittsburgh Pirates Pierogi Race
More Fun Facts About Pierogi
- The Pittsburgh Pirates home baseball games always include a “pierogi race” with people dressed up as pierogi.
- Ten students from a catering school in Poland were entered into the Guinness World Records Book for making 1,663 pierogi (90 pounds) in 100 minutes.
- In the early 1990’s, a 25-foot, 6,000 pound, roadside tribute to the pierogi was erected in the village of Glendon in Alberta Canada. There is also an annual "Pyrohy Festival" held on the first Saturday of September.
- In November 2005, a woman claimed she had an image of Jesus Christ seared into the side of a pierogi she made. Her family placed the pierogi on eBay and netted $1,775. Of course, this was much less than the $28,000 netted for a grilled cheese sandwich on eBay with a vision of the Virgin Mary on it.
My Grandmother's Authentic Pierogi Recipe
There is nothing better than making your own authentic homemade pierogi. Depending on how many pierogi you are planning on making, it can be time consuming BUT SO WORTH IT.
Why not get a small group together and spend the day making pierogi. Have fun and make enough to freeze for later too.
Grandma's Pierogi Dough (makes approx. 12-15)
- 2 C. flour
- ½ t. salt
- 1 large egg
- ½ C. sour cream (this used to be Gram’s secret but everyone does it now)
- ¼ C. butter softened (cut in small pieces)
To prepare the dough, mix the flour and salt together. Beat the egg and add to the flour mixture. Add sour cream and softened butter and kneed (Grandma used her hands) for about 5 minutes until it loses its stickiness. A mixer with a dough hook can be used but be sure not to over mix it. It needs to be a consistency that is easy to roll out. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The dough can be kept for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
Roll out the pierogi dough on a floured surface until it is about 1/8” thick. Use a round cookie cutter or drinking glass to cut out circles of dough approximately 3” in diameter.
Filling recipe is below. Place a small ball of filling (approx. 1 tablespoon) on each dough round and fold the dough over to form a semi-circle. Press the edges together with your fingers to ensure a good seal. You can decorate the edges with the tines of a fork if you wish. If the edges are not sticking together, it may be because there is too much flour on the dough. Add a little water to help get a good seal.
Place pierogi in a large pot of boiling water, maybe 6 or so at a time, for about 8-10 minutes. You will know they are done when they float to the top. Remove and let cool on a cookie sheet.
How Grandma would serve her pierogi: Chop onions and sauté in butter in a large frying pan until the onions are tender. Add cooked pierogi and fry until lightly browned. Serve with the onions and a side of sour cream. Enjoy!
Grandma's Potato, Cheese & Onion Pierogi Filling
- 5 large potatoes
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 2 T. butter
- 8 oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper
To make the pierogi filling, peel and boil 5 large potatoes until soft. Grandma used red potatoes. While the potatoes are boiling, finely chop 1 large onion and sauté in butter until tender and translucent. Mash the potatoes with the sautéed onions and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let the potato mixture cool. The consistency should be thick where you can roll it into a ball if you wish.
THERE ARE ENDLESS IDEAS FOR PIEROGI FILLINGS. GET CREATIVE AND HAVE FUN!
This is Sharyn's Slant