Pierogi

Potato, Pierogi, Cheese

The first pierogi I ever ate were made by my mother-in-law.  I was instantly hooked. They were pasta filled pockets with creamy mashed potatoes, cheese, and onion…what’s not to like. Pierogi can be filled with many things, other than potato, such as sauerkraut, ground meat, cabbage, and cheese, to name a few. 

Mom made three different kinds of pierogi—two savory and one sweet. The savory are the potato with onion and farmer’s cheese that I mentioned, and the second one is fresh green cabbage with onion and farmer’s cheese. The sweet pierogi are filled with purple plums, a dab of butter and a sprinkle of sugar. They are light and delicately sweet.  My favorite, though, are the cabbage filled.  Mom used fresh cabbage instead of sauerkraut, which I prefer because it has a mild, sweet taste.

I learned to make the pierogi by helping my mother-in-law make them for the holidays. She did not write down the recipe for me, but while we worked, I payed close attention to the ingredients and proportions she used so that I could make them on my own. Soon it was my job to make them for the family holiday meals.

Over the years I have made some adjustments to the recipe. Today I am making my latest versions of both the potato and the cabbage filled pierogi inspired by my mother-in-law.

Potato and Farmer’s Cheese Pierogi

Ingredients:

2 – lbs. Russet Potatoes
2 – 2.5 oz. pkgs. Farmers Cheese
2 – medium-large onions
1 – stick unsalted butter
1/4 – cup whole milk
salt
ground black pepper

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In the mean time, peel and cut in quarters 2 pounds of russet potatoes.  When the water comes to a boil; add 1 tablespoon of salt and the potatoes. Cook until fork tender.

While the potatoes are cooking; dice two medium/large onions. 

Melt 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large skillet, then add the diced onion and sauté until they are translucent.

Do not brown the onion. Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper when they are almost done.

When the potatoes are ready, drain them thoroughly and place them in a large bowl.  Add the remainder of the stick of butter, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper and 1/4 cup milk. Using a potato masher, mash them until they are smooth. 

mashed potatoes

Add the sautéed onions and mix well.  Let cool about 15 minutes before adding the cheese.

Once the potatoes have cooled enough you can add the farmers cheese. 

Mix well until all the cheese in incorporated. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Makes 3 dozen pierogi.

Now let’s make the dough . . .

Pierogi Dough

Ingredients:

4 – cups all purpose flour
3 – eggs
1-1/4 – cups sour cream
1 – tsp – baking powder
1-1/2 – tsp salt

Directions

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center then add two whole eggs and one extra yolk only.

Mix with a fork like scrambling eggs. Then add 1-1/4 cups sour scream into the eggs and continue mixing until well incorporated.

Once it is thoroughly mixed start to incorporate the flour a little at a time until it starts to come together. It will appear dry and lumpy. Turn it out onto the board and knead until all the flour is incorporated, and the dough is soft, but not sticky.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To assemble . . .

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a floured surface.

Notice how smooth and silky the dough is. Knead the dough briefly and cut it into 6 equal pieces. Take one of the pieces and place on floured surface and roll out into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. While you are rolling out this piece, keep the rest of the dough covered so it doesn’t dry out. I usually place the dough under a bowl to keep it moist.

Next use a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to make circles in the dough, then remove the excess dough, leaving only the circles. Put the excess dough with the rest of the dough.

Fill a small bowl with a little water. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of one of the circles, then dip your finger in the water and wet the edges of the circle. You can also use a pastry brush to wet the edges if you prefer, but I work better with my hands.

Fold the dough over the filling to make a half moon. You may have to stretch the dough a little to cover the filling completely.


Fold dough into a half moon

Use your fingers to press the edges of the pierogi together. You can dip your fingers in flour to help secure the edges.

Place the finished pierogi on a floured cookie sheet. Continue making the rest of the pierogi.

If you are not going to cook the pierogi the same day that you make them, you will need to freeze them. Fill a cookie sheet with the pierogi and place in the freezer for about 20 minutes, long enough for the dough to start to freeze. This is necessary so the pierogi do not stick together. Next, place a little flour in a large zip lock bag and add the partially frozen pierogi. Freeze immediately. You can keep them in the freezer for about 6 weeks. When you are ready to cook them, do not thaw the pierogi. Add them frozen directly into the boiling water.

To cook . . .

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  In the meantime, dice two large onions and sauté them in 5 tablespoons of butter until they start to caramelize.  This process takes about 40 minutes.  Mix often not to let them burn.  

When the water is boiling, add salt and the pierogi one at a time.  Stir gently with a wooden spoon to make sure they do not stick together.  Cover and bring back to a boil.  Reduce the flame to a slow boil and stir occasionally.  Cook about 5 minutes.  The pierogi should float to the top.  Remove them with a slotted spoon into a large colander to drain.  Transfer the pierogi to a platter and pour the caramelize onions and butter over top.  Serve immediately.

Potato and Cheese Pierogi

Here is the Cabbage Recipe . . .

Cabbage filling

Ingredients:

2 – lb. green cabbage
2 – 2.5 oz. pkgs. Farmers Cheese
2 – medium-large onions
1 – stick unsalted butter
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once it is boiling add 2 teaspoons salt and one tablespoon white vinegar. In the mean time, rinse the cabbage then cut it into quarters.  Cut out the core, and  cut the cabbage into thin slices, cutting across the quartered pieces.

Add the shredded cabbage to the boiling water. Once the pot comes back to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook until tender about -5-7 minutes.

While the cabbage is cooking. Dice onions and sauté in 3 tablespoons butter until translucent. Do not brown.

When the cabbage is tender drain and let cool enough until you can handle it. Once it has cooled take a handful at a time and squeeze out the excess water. Then lay out the cabbage on sturdy paper towels and roll it up to absorb a little more water.

Place the cabbage in a large bowl, add the sautéed onions. Melt the rest of the stick of butter and add it to the cabbage. Add one teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper and mix well. Add Farmer’s cheese and mix well. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

The filling is now ready. See instructions above to assemble the pierogi.

Makes about 3 dozen pierogi.

Cabbage and Cheese Pierogi
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