Readers Jen, Rae and Will all anticipated my next post by asking whether derelye might not just be slimmed down versions of classic Central European pierogi.
I’ll begin by saying that I never use the words “slim” and “pierogi” in the same sentence. I recall my first encounter with pierogi, at the house of my high school girlfriend in Western Springs, Illinois. She was from a Polish family and her mother made what I still believe are the best boiled pierogi this side of Gdańsk. That day is still hazy for me, as I blacked out sometime after my twentieth dumpling. I woke up staring at the ceiling with an EMT team working over me, trying to purge my arteries of mashed potatoes. I barely survived to come back for the pan fried versions the following day.
So you could say I know a thing or two about pierogi. And yes, there are definite similarities. Both are small, crimped dumplings. Both can be made of lean pasta-like dough, though most of the pierogi I’ve eaten have been made with much richer doughs, usually containing butter, sour cream or cream cheese, sometimes mashed potatoes. Filling-wise pierogi can contain just about anything, though classic fillings are farmer’s cheese (sweet or savory), potato, sauerkraut, caramelized onions, mushrooms, ground meat, and cabbage. And of course, a wide variety of fruits and jams.
Objectively speaking derelye aren’t terribly different, though they tend to have a smaller ratio of filling to skin, are made strictly with the leaner pasta-like dough, and of course are served in that unusual bread crumb-and-butter sauce. Add in the fact they they’re served strictly as a dessert with sugar sprinkled on top, and to me you have a somewhat different animal, more like a pasta dish than a dumpling dish. But who can really tell? You say pomidor, I say paradiscom…