Today, it was a toss-up whether I would write about panforte or pierogi. Both can be constituted as Christmas dishes and I had just been reading about panforte and had a handy recipe…but, mmm, I have been thinking about our young Canadian friends who visited us and talked enthusiastically about making pierogi together. They have just moved into their new home and are getting married soon and so this blog is for them.
Today it is the perogi, pyrogy, perogie, perogy, pirohi, piroghi, pirogi, pirogen, pierogy, pirohy, pyrogie, and pyrohy as it is variously known in the countries who claim it partly or wholly as their own.
By the way, there is no singular of the word ‘pierogi’ and they are always served at least as a pair – and anyway, it would be impossible to eat only one, they are sooo delicious.
Known since the 13th century, the origins are contested with China, Tartars, Magars all nominated as importers to the Eastern European area. Originally a peasant dish they became popular with Eastern European elites and appear for the first time in the 17th century in Polish cookbooks. Poland considers itself the home of the pierogi and claims it as a national food.
Pierogi are dumplings that are boiled and then can be fried or baked. They are served as an appetizer, main course or dessert. Yes, they have many different fillings, but the one most common and popular outside of Poland of cooked potatoes, cheese and onion, the ‘ruskie pierogi’ (nothing to do with Russia, where pierogi do not exist, but rather ‘Ruthenian’ or Slavic) is not the most popular in Poland, according to Tasting Poland. (Thanks to Slavic Cooking for use of this image showing different pierogi fillings).
Pierogi, says wikipedia, are widespread in, amongst other places, Canada and the United States, having been popularized by Central and Eastern European immigrants. In fact, in 1993, the village of Glendon in Alberta, Canada, erected a roadside tribute to this culinary creation: a 25-foot (7.6 m) fibreglass perogy (preferred local spelling), complete with fork!
In Poland two types of pierogi are traditionally served for Christmas Eve supper. One kind is filled with sauerkraut and dried mushrooms, the other is served in clear borscht.
There is no shame in buying pierogi, but if you want to make your own see the recipe below. Family bites offers eleven ways to serve store-bought or homemade pierogi for dinner and what might be served with them.
- Top with caramelized onion and fresh thyme.
- Top with caramelized onion and cooked, crumbled sausages.
- Top with leftover chilli, sour cream and green onions.
- Add a little extra olive oil to the pan and sauté some shredded kale and garlic with the perogies. Finish with lemon zest and fresh herbs.
- Toss cooked perogies with fresh onions, mushrooms, and bacon.
- Top with Bolognese and Parmesan cheese.
- Add cooked perogies to homemade pizza with pepperoni and mozzarella.
- Serve like nachos by topping with seasoned ground beef, sour cream, cheese, salsa, and olives.
- Serve with sautéed cabbage and apple and a side of sour cream.
- Top with a fried egg, sautéed peppers and green onions.
- Make a cobb-inspired perogie dish by serving with cherry tomatoes, chunked avocado, hard-boiled egg, crumbled bacon, and blue cheese dip.
I hope these suggestions and the following recipe meets everyone’s approval – especially my friends from Hamilton. Enjoy.
(adapted from Slavic Cooking) Yields 24
Potato and Cheddar Filling:
- 1 lb potatoes (russet or eastern potatoes work well)
- 1 med white onion – diced small or coarsely chopped
- 2 TBS of cooking oil
- 1 TBS of butter
- 1 cup (or more) shredded or grated sharp cheddar cheese
- salt for cooking and flavor
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 large beaten room-temperature eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup lukewarm milk
For sealing: 1 additional egg whipped with 1 Tbsp of water to use as an egg wash for sealing
- Boil potatoes in salted water until firm but tender (don’t over cook)
- Drain in colander and put in a large mixing bowl.
- Saute onions in the oil and butter and add to the potatoes along with some salt to “flavor”.
- Mash potatoes (DO NOT WHIP) then stir in onions and cheddar cheese.
- Set aside to cool to room temp while you prepare the dough.
- In a medium bowl, combine eggs, salt, and milk.
- Add 1/2 the flour then add a little more at a time, kneading until dough is firm and well mixed.
- Place in a clean bowl and loosely cover with plastic wrap.
- Let rest for about 20 minutes to 1 hour (while the filling comes to room temperature).
- Work with half the dough at a time.
- Take 1/2 the dough and roll it out nice and thin using a well-floured surface.
- You want to get it about 1/8th inch thick, little thinner is even better.
- I like to use a pastry cutter to cut 4-inch circles.
- Save the excess trimmings to re-roll.
- Paint each circle with the egg wash which was sett aside from before.
- Add a spoon of filling and fold it over in half and seal the edges.
- Pinch the edges nice and tight so the filling doesn’t come out.
- (For quicker process to make many pierogi at a time, purchase a pierogi maker… see the attached ads from Amazon.com)
- Put them on a plastic wrapped plate or tray or on parchment paper as you make them.
- In a large pot, bring some salted water to a boil and place several pierogi.
- Boil for 3-4 minutes or until they float for a few seconds.
- Transfer them into a colander to drain
- Use a sauté pan and melt a couple tablespoons of butter and equal amount of oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Carefully add several pierogi – one at a time to the pan with the butter and oil.
- Cook on med to med-low heat until golden-brown on both sides.
- Then place on paper towels to drain before serving.