Polish food 「波蘭の料理」
Prep time: 2~3 hours | Cooking time: 10 min
Growing up in Canada, I developed a taste for pierogi early in life. I vividly remember myself as a teenager, returning from a long day at school, famished and ripping the house apart
for the perfect after-school snack. I despised bag lunches with a passion, so lunch always came late in the day for me.
Sometimes I would whip up some pesto and pasta if there was fresh basil to be had, maybe accompanied by a Caesar salad from scratch. Other times, I would concoct an open-ended burrito. But more often than not, I would feel pretty lazy after school. I would quickly chop up some onion and garlic to accompany my Canadian style (pan-fried in butter) pierogi.
When I tasted a Cheemo’s Pizza Perogies* for the first time, it was love at first bite. Problem was, Cheemo Pizza Perogies were hard to come by. We would often have to request an order of them at our local Safeway. Whenever we found some, we would buy the entire stock. After all, what mother wants to face a starving, cranky teenage son after returning from a hard day at work.
As if the hunt for pizza pierogi wasn’t already frustrating enough back in Canada, the epic quest to find a single pierogi in Japan has proven to be infuriating. One day, in the heart of winter, I reached the boiling point. I needed some comfort food, stat! So I scoured the internet for possible pierogi dough recipes.
I had a pretty good idea of how to make several fillings already, but the dough…that proved to be tricky. I’m still working out all the kinks in my dough recipe, but as it stands right now, it is nice and light, not overpoweringly doughy tasting, and cooks up from either a fresh or frozen state quite nicely. If you discover any ways of improving the recipe, please leave your comments below!
Okay, so lets get this pierogi party started. It is a time consuming endeavour of love, so make sure that you have 2~3 hours to kill (maybe more for your first batch). I would also strongly suggest you attempt this recipe with an accomplice. If you’re a parent, you may have a whole assembly line of accomplices you can rope in. Lucky you!
You will need to make two batches of dough to use all of the filling each recipe provides. Additionally, you can split the filling before adding unique filling ingredients to make two different types if you like. I would recommend making only one batch of dough at a time, however. The filling will keep in the fridge for 2~3 days, so you can always make the second batch a few nights later. Worst case scenario, you can freeze unused filling for a week or two. Each batch of dough should yield approx. 30~35 pierogi (60~70 once doubled). Tis well worth the trouble!
* Pierogi has been spelled many different ways in English. Cheemo opted to use “perogies” to denote more than one pierogi. However, pierogi already signifies one or more, so the addition of ‘s’ is unnecessary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierogi).
Before you get started…
This recipe is as monolithic as you make it. Here’s a handy-dandy checklist to help you out!
Prep-work / time schedule:
- Strain the yoghurt. If you’re using yoghurt, like me, this process will take an hour or two. Get it started early. The yoghurt is ready when it has a similar consistency to sour cream. If you find that after straining you are just short of 1 cup, don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Just stir in a little more un-strained yoghurt. Tis not the end of the world!
- Prep your filling. This can be made well in advance or just before you prep your pierogi. Peel your potatoes, make your pizza sauce, grate your cheese, fry up your bacon. Do whatever needs to be done to streamline your cooking process.
- The dough is your last step, don’t rush it! While your filling is cooling down, start prepping your dough. Time it so that your filling is cool enough to use as soon as your dough is done sitting for 10~15 min.
STEP 1: Choose and make your filling!
I’m providing you with three filling options. Once you have your mashed potatoes down, dream up any filling you can think of and give it a try. Rumour has it that dessert pierogi are delicious as well. I have yet to attempt this, but I’m thinking some cinnamon & spice peach pierogi might taste nice.
STEP 2: Pierogi dough
Prep time: 5 min | Kneading time: 5 min | Sitting time: 10~15 min | Production time: 30 min
800 ml all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
200 ml of sour cream or plain yoghurt, unsweetened and semi-strained**
1 egg, beaten
**To strain yoghurt, split the yoghurt amongst several sets of coffee filters (two filters to each set). Place these filters in a large bowl with some paper towels to absorb the extra fluid. Keep refrigerated. One to two hours should remove enough fluid to render the yoghurt to a similar texture as sour cream. Sour cream is very hard to come by where I live in Japan, so this alteration was necessary but renders the pierogi less “authentic.”
Directions: Putting it all together!
1) Sift the flour into a medium bowl. Stir the flour and salt together. Cut in the butter using a butter cutter or fork.
2) Stir in the yoghurt and egg. Mix until well blended.
3) Begin the kneading process. If the dough is too sticky, add a pinch of flour. Continue this process until you can knead it easily on a floured surface.
4) Knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes, or until smooth and not too tacky to the touch. Cover with a damp clothe or towel, and let rest for 10~15 minutes.
5) Cut the dough in half, leaving one half under the damp cloth. On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough out to desired thickness (around 1/8 inch or a ¼ cm seems to work well).
6) Cut into circles with a diameter of roughly 2.5 inches or 6.5 cm by using a either a round cookie cutter, kitchen knife, or a glass.
WARNING: Try to avoid re-rolling the dough more than once. It gets tough really fast.
7) One at a time, place a small spoonful (just over 1 teaspoon) of the filling onto each circle of dough. Adjust amount as necessary. Fold one half of the dough over the filling to make a crescent moon shape. Press the edges first with your fingers to close it, then with a fork to seal it tightly. Be careful not to allow the filling to spill into the seam as it contains butter and the seam will not stick.
8) Repeat with each circle of dough, and set them aside.
9) They can be placed on trays above cooking sheets and frozen at this point.
10) Roll out the second half of the dough and repeat.
STEP 3: Cooking methods
Boiling method + optional pan-fry:
Prep time: 3 min | Cooking time: 7-10 min | Eating time: priceless
1 A) Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
1 B) Place the pierogi in the water and boil until they float to the surface.
1 C) If you like, you can then fry the pierogi in some butter with chunked garlic and sliced onion before serving.
1 D) Serve with a dollop of sour cream (or plain, unsweetened yoghurt).
Prep time 2~3 min | Cooking time: 5-7 min | Eating time: priceless
2 A) In a large skillet, heat some vegetable or canola oil. Use medium low to low heat (low heat is especially important if pierogi are frozen).
2 B) Place pierogi in the pan. Carefully turn them as the dough will be sticky and liable to tear.
2 C) Add some garlic and onions if you like. Cook very slowly until golden brown on both sides.
2 D) Serve with a dollop of sour cream (or plain, unsweetened yoghurt).