Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Polish Family Favorite - Pierogies!

With Fireman at work today and everyone else at the Purdue football game, I knew I had loads of uninterrupted time to fill.  So I thought it would be a great time to make pierogies.  Pierogies are typically semi-circular dumplings that are filled with a variety of ingredients including potatoes, meat, and/or cheese.  These dumplings are generally boiled and then fried.  This is my Mother-in-laws family recipe that we all love.  Making pierogies is a labor of love as this process is not a quick one.  First you make the filling, we use dry cottage cheese seasoned with minced onion, a tiny bit of sugar and salt and loads of black pepper.  Then you make the dough.  I like to make a double batch of dough to be filled with one pound of the dry cheese mixture.  Once the dough is made, I divide it into about 14 individual balls and cover them with a damp paper towel so they don't dry out.  I hand roll each of these dough balls into about a 5-6" circle then fill it with about a golf ball sized scoop of filling.  Then fold the dough over the filling and seal the edges well.

This is what the filled pierogies look like before boiling!

  Now you're ready to boil these babies!  Boil three at a time for 10 minutes then place them on some parchment paper and cover with a damp towel. 

Boil 3 pierogie at a time for 10 minutes

I hope you can see that the bottom pierogie is larger than the top one!  The bottom one has been boiled!
Fry 'em up!!
At this point, you can fry the pierogies in a mixture of butter and olive oil (this is my favorite way to fry them as the olive oil keeps the butter from browning too much). 
If you don't want to fry all of them, this is the point where you can freeze the extras.  Place in a container or sealed freezer bag with layers of wax paper between.  When you get a craving for pierogies, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or while you're at work and then fry them up when you get home.  We like to serve these with ketchup.  I know, I know, it sounds really weird but you have to taste it to believe it.  I've been hooked every since I had these for the first time probably 18 years ago.  My MIL, having 7 kids, had to make upwards of 90-100 of these to feed her hungry crowd.  Keep in mind that I just made a double batch and it made 13 filled pierogies and it took me two hours and I haven't even fried any yet - that's for tomorrow!  Because this process takes so long, MIL instituted a rule that you have to say "mmmmm, thank you Mom" with every bite!!  Obviously, she gets loads of appreciation for making these but no one really talks at all when we sit down to platters of fresh pierogies.  It's the quietest meal ever with a few mumbled 'mmmm's' here and a 'pass the platter or ketchup' there.  I hope if you're feeling adventurous one day, you'll try this recipe too.  The dry cottage cheese is sometimes really hard to find but your grocer will often order it for you if you ask.  I generally get mine whenever I'm in South Bend and then freeze it until I'm ready to use it.

Was aiming for another photo, but
Fireman starting eating them
before I could!!

Homemade Pierogies

For the Filling:
1 pound dry-curd cottage cheese
salt and pepper - heavy on the pepper
1 T sugar
1/2 small onion, diced

For the Dough:
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
1 t each butter and shortening
Mix these ingredients with your fingers or a pastry blender then add:
1 beaten egg and water to make a soft dough (I'd estimate about 1/3 to 1/2 cup water for a batch of dough)

Once you have the dough mixed, cut into balls about the size of a small lemon.  Cover these with a damp cloth so they don't dry out.  Roll out one at a time and fill with about a golf ball sized scoop of filling.  Place the filling down the center of the dough and fold the dough over to make a half-moon shape.  Seal the edges by pinching them shut (you could also press with a fork).  Place the filled pierogies on parchment paper and cover again with a damp towel until all the dough balls are filled and you are ready to boil them.  Boil three at a time for 10 minutes and place back onto parchment paper.  When you are ready, heat butter and olive oil in a heavy skillet and fry over low heat until they are golden brown. I generally use 1 stick of butter and about 1/4 cup olive oil to fry all of these.  You may have to add more of each during the process. If you are making a large batch, keep the fried pierogies in a warm oven (about 200 degrees) until you are ready to serve them.  Serve with ketchup and enjoy!!
Note:  I double the dough recipe but not the filling recipe.  This generally makes about 12-14 pierogie for me.

This is obviously not the most low calorie meal I make but since we rarely get to have them, I throw nutrition to the wind and just enjoy!  Notice the brussels sprouts and carrots - I didn't say I completely forget about being a dietitian when I make these!!!  Enjoy!


  1. Omg, YUMMY, that cheese sounds a bit like the white cheese in bulgaria, not the one on the salad but the one they use for cooking, i cant think of the name of the dish but it was in a small covered bowl with an egg?? any idead ang??

  2. Adelaide, I think the dish you are talking about is called "Shopska style cheese". The cheese used here is very different as it doesn't really melt. It's more like ricotta with larger curds and no liquid surrounding it. Next time in Bulgaria, I'm going to have to try that white cheese dish!! YUM