They are an age-old Eastern/Central European delicacy that serves as an appetizer, main course of a meal and even a dessert. Pierogi are basically dumplings that are first boiled and then fried with butter and onions. The homeland of pierogi is certainly one of the most beautiful countries of the Europe, Poland, which is actually one of the national foods of that country.
The Polish word pierogi is plural. Its singular equivalent, pieróg is not normally used. Pierogi are always served two or usually more so for that reason the plural term is usually associated with this dumpling. Traditionally considered ‘peasant food’, the exquisite taste of pierogi quickly spread across Poland throughout all social classes including nobles.
Outside Poland, they are very popular in other European countries such as Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine. Many cookbooks from the 17th Century describe pierogi as a staple of the Polish diet, and each traditional holiday had its own special kind of perogi. In Czech and Slovak pirohy is also the plural, piroh being the singular noun. In Germany, this type of dumpling is called Pirogge in ithe singular and Piroggen in the plural, although sometimes the Polish name Pierogi is used.
There are some people who know the history of Eastern European food and believe that some kind of original version of pierogi was imported from the Far East. Some say that the earlier version of pierogi had come from China and traveled to Italy during the expeditions of Marco Polo. We may never completely know.
In Poland pierogi have been made since the thirteenth century. The word pierogi appears for the first time in Polish literature in the second half of the 17th century which is the time when some of the first Polish cookbooks were published. In this distant past pierogi were exclusively prepared on and during the different holiday seasons.
In many regions of Poland, the so-called Ruskie pierogi are well known. The name does not indicate any Russian origin, since such food is unknown in Russia. Ruskie pierogi comes from the prewar Poland’s region called Red Ruthenia which today it is within a territory of the Ukraine.
Polish pierogi are quite common in United States and Canada. Pierogi were imported to North America by Polish immigrants more than one hundred years ago. This Polish food is most known in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Connecticut, Ohio, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Wisconsin and in Canadian Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario. Outside North America Polish pierogi are best known in Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and the Netherlands. A filling is made of cooked potatoes, white cheese and sauteed onion so the ruskie pierogi version is probably the most popular kind of pierogi in this region of the world.
This version of the pierogi is not the most popular in Poland, although it still is very much liked. There are some other kinds of a traditional Polish pierogi which have a regional character. The best part is that pierogi are super diverse and can be stuffed with anything, from potato filling and cheese to ground meat and sour cream, or even your choice of fruit.
This Polish pierogi recipe is one that I adopted and tweaked to make basic Polish pierogi dough and potato filling. The dough is simply a combination of flour, eggs, milk and salt.
Polish Pierogi Recipe
- 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 Tbsp of oil
- 1 Lg finely chopped onion
- 1 14-16 oz Sauerkraut
- Salt and Pepper to flavor
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 large beaten room-temperature eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup lukewarm milk
- 1 additional egg whipped with 1 Tbsp of water to use as an egg wash for sealing
- 1 additional med onion sliced for sauteing with cooked perogi
- 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 colander, drain sauerkraut very well and press out as much liquid as possible.
- In a skillet on a medium-low heat, add onions and cook until tender (but not brown).
- Stir in sauerkraut, salt, and pepper and cook for an additional 6 to 10 minutes on medium-low heat.
- Stir frequently.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool completely before using.
- 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.
- (Pre-boiled pierogi freeze very well up to 6 months or longer for another meal. Just place them on a greased or lightly oiled cookie sheet and place in the freeze. When partially frozen place in a plastic zipper freezer bag and store in the freezer).
- You may need to add a little water or a little more flour based on the humidity that day. I like to add salt to the dough for flavor. The dough should not be crumbly, nor should it be sticky.
- The filling is just mashed hard-boiled potatoes - NO milk, NO butter. This is just cooked potatoes.
- I like to add lightly sauteed onions with shard cheddar cheese.
- You can put in any flavorings to your potato filling (bacon, chive, etc) and garnish, when serving, with sour cream and the additional sauteed onions or
- Fill with any variety of a "firm" filling such as a prune lekvar, sauerkraut, pot cheese, etc.
Originally Published: Nov 8, 2013 @ 02:44