Pierogies are a delicious Polish dish my family makes for holidays and yet we don't have a drop of Polish blood in the family tree. It started back in the early 1900s when my great-grandmother found herself a widow with four young children. She cleaned houses and took in laundry to make ends meet. One client, a young Polish immigrant, became her new husband. They operated a small dairy farm, worked hard, and she learned to make a few of his favorite dishes. Pierogies was one of those Polish specialties.
What Is a Pierogie?
If you've never heard of a pierogie, it is a type of filled dumpling. What you fill it with is as limitless as your imagination. My great-grandma filled hers with dry curd cottage cheese. I haven't been able to find that for quite a few years so now I use ricotta cheese mixed with mozzarella. Other possible fillings can include vegetables like cabbage, mushrooms, ground meat, or for a sweeter option fill them with fruit. How you cook them also varies. They can be boiled, baked or fried, or you can combine boiling and baking, or boiling and frying.
Recipe for Pierogies
One holiday, about 40 years ago, I went to the kitchen to watch my grandmother make pierogies, because I wanted to learn how to make them. She dumped flour from the bag into the bowl. How much flour? She didn't know. She said, "You just pour flour into the bowl until it looked like the right amount." That's when I told her I wanted to measure the ingredients as she made the pierogies. This is her recipe. Note: Before you start rolling out the dough put a large pot of water on to boil.
- 3 ½ cups flour
- 8 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ tsp. baking powder, (baking soda can be used but it gives the pierogies a greenish appearance)
- Butter and Onion Topping In a small saucepan combine the following:
- 2 sticks butter, melted
- 1 large onion, chopped (add to butter and simmer on low)
- Cheese Filling blend the following, until creamy
- 4 oz. ricotta cheese
- 4 oz. mozzarella cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
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- Roll dough from the center outward.
- Cut the pierogie dough into squares about 3 inches square.
- Put about a teaspoon cheese mixture on the pierogi
- Fold over and crimp edges using a fork. (Flour the fork tongs to avoid sticking.)
- Drop pierogies into boiling water (about four at a time).
- When they float, remove from the water and place in a 9 X 13 baking dish.
- Spoon about a tablespoon of the butter/onion mixture over each one and repeat until you've made the entire batch.
Once the pierogies are complete they can be stored covered in the refrigerator or placed in a 350 degree oven (covered) for 30 minutes. Letting them sit in the refrigerator for a day does enhance the flavor. They also freeze well.
The Versatility of Pierogies
While pierogies are a traditional Polish dumpling, it is a versatile recipe. I've not tried it, but I've been told they are delicious filled with fruit, deep fried and rolled in sugar. If anyone decides to try this version, let me know how it turns out.
Leftover pierogies are great reheated, added to soups, or frozen as a future meal.