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Making Pierogi

This photo is actually a joke, because as anyone who’s had any experience with pierogi knows, no one eats just two of these things. My first experience with pierogi left me nearly comatose. One of my high school girlfriends was Polish, and when she decided she liked me enough to introduce me to her mother, she brought me over on pierogi day. Four hours and God knows how many pierogi later I was lying face down on their couch, my entire circulatory system clogged with mashed potatoes. I’ve never eaten the like since, though I have to say that these are very, very close.

Mrs. Gorecki served hers like most Poles in the City of Chicago, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped chives. My friend’s Oma served hers with caramelized onions and a drizzle of warm, sweet cream, which is what we did, and I have to say it was great. I’ve also seen them served browned in bacon fat with bacon bits on top, which I’ve never tried for the simple reason that I don’t want to repeat the couch incident again. A man’s constitution can only take so much.

Begin yours by assembling your ingredients. Place the salt and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer and give it a quick stir.

Add the sour cream, eggs, yolk, and butter and stir it all together on medium-low until everything is wet.

Keep mixing until the dough comes together. If it’s too wet, add flour a spoonful at a time until it comes together into a very soft and pliable dough.

It will roll very, very easily.

Roll yours quite thin. This is even a little thick, especially for a very small pierogi, so err on the side of thinness, since an overly thick dough wall will yield a tough pierogi.

It’s traditional to cut your circles with a water glass. The dough is that soft. I went with a jar lid because I don’t like getting glass close to my food, and because I was making slightly larger pierogi, in deference to my friend’s Oma. The scraps roll up readily for re-rolling. If you prefer you can avoid rolling waste by simply making square pierogi, which are also in-bounds, and once they’re boiled you can barely tell.

To shape, do as you would with any other hand pie. Place about a teaspoon of filling in the middle of a dough circle, then paint a little water on the rim with your finger like so:

Squeeze the circle closed, being careful to avoid any large air pockets.

Next, crimp them by squeeze the very edges very firmly indeed. You can squeeze the dough edges to near paper thinness, which is a good thing for tenderness, since, again, double-thick dough walls can end up being chewy. Use difference crimps for difference fillings, if you’re making several different flavors on the same day. These sauerkraut pierogi we sealed with a simple finger crimp, the mashed potato versions we did were crimped with a fork.

Rest them about 20 minutes to relax any activated gluten. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to the boil and drop them into the water about half a dozen at a time. When they float, they’re done.

Drain them on wire racks. At this point you can simply eat them — some people don’t like theirs pan fried, but I sure do.

Just a quick browning in a very hot pan with a little butter.

They’re great just like this, though some form of garnish is standard, whether sour cream, apple sauce, or warm sweet cream.

Sprinkle on some chives, bacon bits or caramelized onions. Onions and warm sweet cream were Oma’s way. No arguments from me.

4 thoughts on “Making Pierogi”

  1. Oh man! This is the food of my childhood. We always had them with caramelized onion, bacon, and a kind of sauce made by warming sour cream in the onion/bacon pan. Heaven! Thanks for the recipe and reminder.

  2. They are on my to do list from a long long time ago. Oh the things I would have done if I had a bigger kitchen. Small places uninspire me lol, and that is a fact. The positive side is I don’t have all the dishes and mess to clean later. Your pierogi look so delicious i will have to make a mess of my mini kitchen again lol.

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