Years ago when I first attempted to make pierogi on my own, I believe I learned all, and I do mean all – the things to do wrong. Bad for that occasion. Good for every time I’ve made them since. I keep getting asked either to make them or share the recipe… this looks after both requests, and they have an updated filling that includes sweet potato & some caramelized onions. Yum.
You don’t have to be Eastern European to love pierogi. Purely, ingeniously peasant food in any language, where modest ingredients are brought together with time and effort into something unbelievably delicious. In the Italian kitchen it’s called cucina povera. In the Polish kitchen it’s słaba kuchnia.
Mom made these often when we were kids. Those were some lean times on the farm, especially during the early years. Each and every fall we’d take a good portion of the harvest and store it in the root cellar. Potatoes and onions were just two of the vegetables always planted in massive quantities, to have enough to get us through the winter. When making the pierogi, Mom would’ve sent one of us down to the root cellar with a basket, to bring up what she needed.
Fast forward years to my first time making them… and here are my best practices/tips:
- Save your sanity and some time… make the filling a day or two ahead; it’ll keep in the fridge. (You could also make the dough ahead!)
- Make them with someone. Get the vodka… or some wine, and enjoy yourself. It’ll come through in the food.
- Roll the dough as thinly as possible… you want to taste the filling, not just thick gobs of dough.
- Make the full amount and freeze what you don’t cook right away.
I wish I could say this was Mom’s recipe but like most of the wonderful food she made, it was from memory and recipes were never put to paper. This recipe is adapted from one found online, from a site in Pittsburgh, PA. I used it because they boast they eat ten times as many pierogi as any other city in the U.S. Works for me!
You’ll be serving them with sautéed onions, and using them for the filling – so cook them all at once. Use some for the filling, and heat the remaining when serving. Don’t forget lots of sour cream!
Do you have a favourite pierogi filing..? Please share if you do, and… If you have a good recipe for sauerkraut filling let us know in the comments!
- 1 1/2 lb. boiling potatoes (Yukon gold or red work well)
- 1 medium (approx. 6 ounce) sweet potato
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling dough
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup sour cream, plus extra to serve with the pierogi
- 1/4 cup butter, softened and cut into small pieces
- Peel the potatoes and put them on to either boil or steam; use 2 pots as they will cook at different times. Cook until tender when pierced with a small knife.
- Sauté the onion in butter until soft and translucent, approx. 10 minutes. Let cool. You’ll add 1/4 cup to the filling, saving the rest for serving.
- In a large bowl mash both potatoes.
- Stir in the onions, cheddar cheese, salt & pepper. It’s ok to leave some streaks of colours.
- Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste.
- Let the potato mixture cool and then form into approx. 1-inch balls.
- Mix together the flour and salt.
- Beat the egg, then add all at once to the flour mixture.
- Add the sour cream and the softened butter pieces, work until the dough loses most of its stickiness, about 5-7 minutes.
- Cover the dough and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or overnight; the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- Roll the pierogi dough on a floured board or countertop until 1/8" thick. Cut circles of dough (2" for small pierogi and 3 - 3 1/2" for large pierogi) with a round cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a small ball of filling on each dough round and fold the dough over, forming a semi-circle. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork.
- Boil the pierogi a few at a time in a large pot of water. They are done when they float to the top, approx. 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl or platter.
- Top with plenty of sautéd onions and serve with sour cream on the side.
- If you are having a hard time getting the edges to stick together, you may have too much flour in the dough. Add a little water to help get a good seal.
- If you don't want to cook all of the pierogi right away, you can refrigerate them (uncooked) for several days or freeze them for up to several months.