Serve with Classic Coleslaw
It is no surprise that the word pierogi appears in half a dozen Slavic languages. Wrapping meat, cheese, or fruit inside pasta dough and then dropping the resulting dumpling in a pot of boiling water seems to be one of the oldest ideas in Slavic cooking. And not only Slavic: Pierogi are also made throughout the Baltic states, eastern and southeastern Europe, Germany, and central Aisa, though sometimes they go by different names. History has not recorded the nationality of the orignal inventor, but in the broader scheme of things, they are clearly related to Chinese dumplings — think wontons — and Jewish kreplach and Italian tortellini as well.
In Poland, as in Hungary and Ukraine, pierogi are associated with celebrations: weddings, christenings, first communions, and Christmas. This too is no surprise, since they do take a certain amount of extra effort, some advance preparation, and, if many guests are coming, multiple cooks. Traditionally, groups of women — mothers, daughters, cousins — would stand in the kitchen and talk while chopping onions and making dozens of pierogi the night before the wedding, or the day before a summer party. Thus did the making of the pierogi itself turn into a celebration.
- All-purpose flour – 3 cups, plus additional for kneading
- Egg – 1 large
- Vegetable Oil – 2 tsp
- Salt – 1 tsp, plus more for the boiling water
- Warm water – 1/2 to 3/4 cup (add 15% extra if using wholegrain flour
Filling and Serving
- potatoes – 2 medium
- ground beef – 1/2 lb
- onions, peeled — 1 minced, and optional 2 sliced (optional sliced ones are for topping)
- carrots – 1 cup, diced small
- Ricotta Cheese, Cheddar, or Parmesan- 9 oz
- Salt – to taste
- Pepper – Freshly ground
- Unsalted Butter – 2 TBS
- Sour Cream – 1-2 cups, for serving
- Butter or ghee- 4-5 TBS, for frying
- To Make the Dough
- On a clean work surface, mound the flour and make a well in the center. Add the egg, vegetable oil, and salt to the well and carefully beat together with a fork without incorporating the flour. Continue stirring with a wooden spoon, adding small amounts of the warm water, and gradually incorporating the flour. Only add the next bit of water when the last has been throughly blended with the flour and the mixture has become dry. Once the dough has begun to form, lose the spoon and knead the dough with your hands. Stop adding water once all the flour has been incorporated and a soft dough has formed (it should not feel wet or sticky — if it does, add a little more flour). Grab a kitchen timer and set it for 8 minutes. Continue to knead the dough until the timer goes off, dusting the work surface with flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. It should be smooth and elastic. Invert a bowl over the dough and let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
- To make the Filling
- Put the potatoes in a large saucepan filled with water, bring to a boil, and continue boiling until soft. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl.
- While the potatoes are cooking, fry the ground beef in the 2 TBS butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Remove the beef, then add the minced onion and saute until soft and lightly browned. Add the diced carrots and cook until just cooked, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Add the ground beef to the bowl with the potatoes, along with the cheese of your choice. Season generously with salt and pepper, and mash the ingredients together. We use a hand mixer set at a low speed. The mixture should be somewhat lumpy — not creamy smooth. Fold in the sauted carrots and minced onions. Taste and correct for seasoning.
- To Fill & Cook the Pierogi
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and also get a large frying pan ready.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface until about 1/8 inch thick. Cut circles 2-3 inches in diameter with either the rim of a glass or cookie cutter. Spoon 1 tbsp of filling in the center of each, and fold the dough over the filling to make a half circle. (Don’t overfill, or the pierogi will become difficult to seal.) Crimp the edges with your fingers or the tines of a fork so they are well sealed (dampen the edges first if necessary).
- Boil the pierogi in batches, for 5 minutes after they have floated to the surface of the water. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and set aside on a platter. In a large frying pan, melt about 3 TBS butter or ghee over medium-high heat and lightly brown the cooked pierogi in batches — as many as will fit in the pan without crowding, turning once and adding more butter to the pan if necessary between batches. Transfer to a plate and keep warm, covered, until ready to serve.
- Serve with a bowl of the sour cream on the side for those who would like to dollop some of that on. See Chef Tip for optional onion topping.
- Not included in Large Kitchen Box: Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper, Vegetable Oil, Unsalted Butter or ghee
- Chef Tip: To make a traditional fried onion topping, melt 1-2 TBS butter or ghee over medium heat in the same frying pan you used for the minced onion. Cook the sliced onions until soft and brown. Do not cook them too quickly; this should take 20 minutes or so. Reduce the heat to low if necessary. When done, pour the cooked onions over the tops of the fried pierogi.