I’ve found that the things that please us the most in this life are simple. Love. Chocolate. A smile. Chocolate. Pierogi. Chocolate… anyways, you get point. If you said,”pierogi?” then you have been missing out on one of Poland’s most beloved and delicious treasures.
Simple, right? Ok maybe not so simple, but if you make this with your family and share the fun, smiles, and laughter along the way, you’ll soon realize making something so delicious and sharing it with your loved ones is really what this dish is about.
A Word About Pierogi History
Pierogi are similar to the Chinese dumplings, the Korean potsticker, the Italian ravioli, or even the Cornish pasty. Ultimately, this is a very simple way for people to carry and eat their food. For our ancestors, this was important in helping them travel long distances. In today’s day and age, it’s a great opportunity to share time with your loved ones and impress your friends with your cooking skills.
It’s also important to mention that pierogi are the national dish of Poland. Pierogi can come with countless and limitless fillings. From the common fillings of mashed potato and cheese to cabbage, mushroom, ground meat, and sauerkraut, your bound to find a flavor that suits your taste buds. However, it doesn’t end there! You can also fill your pierogi with fruits like strawberries or apricots and make a delectable dessert (don’t forget the Greek yogurt dip!). This dish is so versatile that you can use just about anything for the filling and make it work.
Poles have been cooking and eating pierogi since the 13th century, maybe even earlier, but the dish did not start appearing in cookbooks until the 17th century. There is a bit of debate of whether or not the dish actually originated in Poland. Theories are swirling that Marco Polo brought it back from China, but all I know is that my Grandma was Polish through and through and made the best pierogi I’ve ever known. So, to me, it doesn’t matter if the Chinese or the Martians originally made the first pierogi, one thing is for certain, the Polish perfected it and continue to do it right.
A Word About Dough
When I make pierogi, I always like to make the traditional, or at least the Pawlik family traditional, farmers cheese (or cottage cheese) filled. I also like to make mushroom filled, just because I am such a big fan of the fungi. The sauerkraut filled pierogi were also a family tradition however, it’s not my favorite.
I’ve read lots of other articles on pierogi and how to make the dough, but I think my Grandma Rita’s recipe is like no other. Some use just flour and water, which I think is flavorless, adding egg into the mix is a must to give it a flavor and texture that is unique. The first time making pierogi might make you wonder why you started on this endeavor, but just wait until you taste your finished product and you’ll know that you just can’t beat the homemade taste anywhere.
A Word About Preparation
Typically, the filling is sauteed and placed on thinly rolled dough, which is cut into circles. Some use squares, I prefer circles. The filling is placed carefully into the center of the dough circle. Then the circle is folded over and the edges are pinched. In my opinion, the hardest part of making pierogi is getting the dough to be at the right thickness. I try to get mine to be less than 1/8 of an inch, which takes quite a bit of rolling, but the exercise is good for you! Make sure you have plenty of flour on hand, as it will help to keep your dough from sticking to your surface and your hands.
Cooking your pierogi can be done a couple ways. I like to boil mine (drop in a boiling pot of water until it rises to the top), then fry/saute in butter until browned. Another way is to simply fry them in oil, which will give them a more crunchy texture. I also like to keep mine warm in a slow cooker, let’s face it, you’re going to want to share these. Keep a bit of water in the bottom of the cooker, so that there is some moisture in the cooker. You can always use foil coils (rolled up foil shaped into a coil) to keep the pierogi from touching the water directly.
If you are making them the day before, use the oven to warm them the next day, roasting pans work great!