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




Kielbasa, Sauerkraut and Potatoes in Beer

Kielbasa, Sauerkraut, Potatoes, Beer

Kielbasa, Sauerkraut and potatoes cooked in beer is a delicious meal. I like to add carrots and mushrooms to add another level of flavor, and to round out the all-in-one meal.

My husband is Polish and he loves Kielbasa, so I make it on a regular basis.  It is great grilled, on a sandwich, or served with our favorite pierogis.  I am always trying new ways to prepare it, but I especially like this recipe because I don’t feel as guilty eating it because of the nutritional benefits of the sauerkraut.  It is rich in vitamins and minerals and high in fiber, and the fermentation process makes it a probiotic-food.

This recipe is easy to make and works well for family dinner, barbecue with friends, or watching Sunday football.  Give it a try, I think you will like it.

Ingredients:
1 – lb. Kielbasa (use your favorite brand)
32 – oz. sauerkraut
1 – cup diced onion
2 – cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups carrots (sliced in 1/2” rounds)
2 – medium golden potatoes (cut into bite sized pieces)
8 – oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
12 – oz. beer
1/4 – cup brown sugar (use more if you want it sweeter)
1/2 – tsp. salt
1/4 – tsp. coriander
1/4 – tsp. sage
1/4 – tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:
Dice the onions and potatoes; slice the carrots and mushrooms, and chop the garlic. Heat one tablespoon canola oil in a heavy pot, then add the diced vegetables and garlic. Sauté about 8 minutes, stirring often. Sprinkle with the coriander, black pepper, and sage. I don’t add the salt until the meal is cooked because it depends on how much salt the sauerkraut and kielbasa have.

Cut the kielbasa into one-inch pieces. Push the vegetables to one side and add the kielbasa to the pot.

Cook about 3 minutes or so until the pieces start to brown.

In the meantime, put the brown sugar into a large bowl and add the beer. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Use any beer you like, they all work well. Then open the sauerkraut and rinse under cold water and drain. I prefer to use sauerkraut in the bag, and organic if possible.

When the kielbasa is ready, add the beer and cook about 3-4 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Add the sauerkraut and 1/2 cup water. Stir and bring back to a boil. Reduce the flame to medium low, cover the pot and let cook about 25 minute.

When ready, taste and add salt if necessary.

Enjoy!

Serves 4

 




Potato Pancakes

Potato pancakes were not something I grew up eating; needless to say, they were not something that my Italian mother made.  As a matter of fact, the first potato pancakes that I ate were made by my mother-in-law.  I liked them so much that I made sure to learn how to make them.  The pancakes are made of basic ingredients, but they are packed full of flavor.

Potato Pancakes make a great side dish.  They go well with pork chops, kielbasa, or chicken.  They also make a great appetizer or work very well as a vegetarian main dish.  I like to serve them with apple sauce and sour cream. The combination of the savory sour cream and sweetness of the apple sauce enhance the flavor of the pancakes.  You can get creative and use any condiments or sauces that you prefer.

Ingredients:
2 – large russet potatoes
1 – heaping tbls. flour
1 – egg
1 – level tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. ground black pepper
Apple sauce
Sour cream
Canola oil for cooking

Directions:
Peel the potatoes and place in a bowl of cold water until you are ready. Peel and quarter a small onion. Attach the medium shredding disc to your food processor (you can also you a block grater). Quarter the potatoes and grate them in the food processor.

Next grate the onion directly into the grated potatoes.

Empty the potato and onion mixture into a large bowl. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and add it to the potatoes along with the rest of the ingredients: flour, salt, and black pepper.

Mix well.

Heat a little canola oil in the bottom of a large iron skillet. Add a large spoonful of the potato mixture to the skillet and spread out with the back of the spoon.

You can make them any size you like, but I generally make them about 3″ in diameter. Cook on a medium-low flame until golden brown, then flip onto the other side and do the same.

Do not be in a rush. Let them cook through slowly. Place on paper towel to absorb some of the excess oil.

Serve immediately with sour cream and apple sauce.

Makes 9-10 pancakes.
Servings 3-4




Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage

This dish is a deconstructed form of stuffed cabbage that I learned to make from my mother-in-law. The beauty of this recipe is that you get all the great taste of stuffed cabbage without all the work. I made a few changes to the recipe; for example, I add pork to the beef to give it more flavor, and I enhance the sauce with diced tomatoes and chicken stock. This dish is great left over and it serves a lot of people.  A side dish suggestion is mashed potatoes.  They go great with this dish.

Ingredients:

1 – medium sized head of cabbage
1 1/4 – lbs. ground pork
1 1/4 – lbs. ground beef
1 – medium onion diced
1 – cup cooked rice
2 – tbls. canola oil
2 – 10.75 oz. cans tomato soup
14 – oz. chicken broth (preferably organic, low sodium brand)
1 – 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 – tbls. white vinegar
1 – tsp. sugar
1 – tsp. salt

1/2 – tsp. ground black pepper or to taste
2 – tbls. butter

Directions:

Cook one cup of rice according to the directions, be sure to salt the water. Do not over cook the rice because it will cook more in the oven. Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons canola oil to a large skillet, add diced onion and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the ground meat, breaking it up into crumbles.  Add about 1/2 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper and cook until no longer pink. Add the cooked rice to the meat mixture and combine thoroughly.  Set aside until ready to assemble.

Cut the head of cabbage in half and remove the core.

cabbage-cut-1

Rinse the cabbage and pat dry. Cut the half cabbage in half again and use a large kitchen knife to thinly slice the cabbage.

image

Rub a pat of butter over a large 11 x 13 deep dish baking or lasagna pan so that the cabbage will not stick. Then spread the cabbage in the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle with salt and a little black pepper and mix through.  Next add the meat mixture on top of the cabbage.

Prepare the sauce in a medium sized pot by mixing together the tomato soup, sugar, vinegar, chicken stock, and diced tomatoes. Heat on the stove until it just starts to a boil. Pour 2/3 of the sauce over the meat and cabbage. Keep the rest of the sauce to serve with the meal. Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and scatter over the top.

image

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375o for 1 hour 30 min. until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Check periodically to make sure it does not dry out. You can add more chicken broth if necessary.  Remove the aluminum foil and cook an additional 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, cover and let rest about 30 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Makes 8 servings