What About Pierogi?

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

4 thoughts on “What About Pierogi?”

  1. I live near Buffalo NY, where pierogi are practically a religion (something about several villages worth of Polish labourers coming over in the 19th c. and ending up here). The versions I know of – inevitably from someone’s great-grandmother’s family recipe – typically use sour cream in the dough, and are boiled briefly then fried in butter. Potato and/or farmer’s cheese are the most common fillings, although my favourite are the sauerkraut and mushroom ones.

    1. Hey Jane!

      Yes, it’s funny, when most people think of Chicago they think about Italians, and maybe Irish, but these days it’s a mostly Polish and Slavic city, with more Poles than every city in Poland other than Krakow! I have no doubt Buffalo is similar. And thank God. Where would we be without pierogi?

      Cheers,

      Joe

  2. Everytime I discover a new post, it brings a smile to my face and brightens my day, as I eagerly read it! Thank you for resurrecting you site. Unfortunately, I came late to the party and you had already stopped posting on a regular basis. Though the Coronavirus has upended the whole world, it is so comforting to see something so familiar come back alive. Thank you, again. P.S. Still enjoying your recipe for Mielie pap, which has earned an honor spot in my prep area, on the inside of my cabinet door.

    1. You sure know how to make a guy feel good, Kathy!

      I greatly appreciate the comment. And ah yes, mieliepap. Young Joan still loves that stuff!

      Cheers,

      Joe

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