Out of nowhere last week, I was clobbered by a free floating jones for Pierogis, Poland’s answer to the Ravioli. The eastern European strains of my DNA would no longer be denied and Mrs. T’s wasn’t gonna cut it. Nope – they’d have to be just like my Italian mamma used to make. This was problematic, because while I had seen her make them countless times, I never got the precise recipe. Yes, I could slap myself silly for this. Instead, I decided to focus on making these carbohydrate grenades. I earnestly posted my intentions on Facebook and was met with the approving likes of various friends, family and random Pierogi enthusiasts.
The problem is, when you open your big mouth, you kind of have to follow through, even when you subsequently realize you are way too tired/busy/overwhelmed/intimidated at the moment to attempt this, the matka of all peasant food. Anyway, I got it together, compiled the recipe below, made a pot of coffee and set aside Sunday morning to make these bad boys.
OK, these are a lot of work. Especially when you’re flying solo and have two five- year-olds with opposing agendas. I lost steam midway through. But, just like the fava shelling “incident” of last summer, I had one of those transcendent moments. It struck me as cool that I was doing something my mother and my Polish aunts and grandmother and countless female relatives reaching back generations before me had done. It made me feel close to them, even though they were gone. (In fact, I never got to meet Jousefa, my Polish grandmother.) I imagined they could see me standing there, covered in flour, giggling at my amateurish technique, and probably wishing they could convey some pointers.
I did determine my mom used wrap traditional filling in Italian pasta dough. Next time, that’s how Ima gonna do it. But for now, here’s the recipe that I used.
2 cups flour, plus extra for kneading
½ tsp. salt
1 large egg
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup softened butter
To prepare the dough, mix together the flour and salt. Add the egg, sour cream and softened butter to the flour and the dough until it loses most of its stickiness (about 5 minutes). Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes or overnight. Each batch of dough makes about 15-18 pierogi.
Peel and boil 5 large potatoes until soft. Let them cook and out them through a ricer. As the potatoes boil, finely chop 1 large onion and saute in butter until soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the onions and oz of grated farmer’s cheese or sharp cheddar cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Rinse two 10-oz packages of white mushrooms. Chop them in a blender until fine and sauté along with a finely chopped onion until the liquid dries, about 15 minutes. Add 2 tbs sour cream, salt, a ½ tsp of dry thyme and salt and pepper to taste.
Roll the Pierogi dough on a floured board or countertop until 1/8″ thick. Cut circles of dough about 3″ wide with a cookie cutter or drinking glass. Place a about a tablespoon of either filling on each dough round and fold the dough over, forming a semi-circle. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork. (A dumpling/empanada maker will make this task much easier, and the end result will be prettier.)
Boil the Pierogis in salted water for 3-4 minutes. Drain and serve with caramelized onions and sour cream. You can also fry them in butter once they are drained. They are also tasty with parmesan cheese J