You Say Pierogi, I Say Perogie

Perogie (pierogi, perogy, pierogy, or pogies, as my cousin used to call them) is kind of a staple in my (carb-loving) family. My grandmother used to make them stuffed with potatoes, onions, cheese, and sometimes my grandfather’s homemade sauerkraut (those were always my favorite).

I have tried making them several times over the years and have finally come up with a recipe that I am pretty happy with (my father likes them, so they must good!). They are definitely labor-intensive, but worth the effort. Plus, they can easily be frozen for comfort-food emergencies.

The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. So, you can make the dough first and then get your filling(s) made to have on hand when you’re ready to start assembling your perogies. As someone who has always flown solo on perogie making, I highly recommend finding a couple of friends or family members who can be bribed with food like being helpful and  incorporating an assembly line approach. Or, if you don’t mind ‘cheating’ (heh), you could just buy one of those dumpling-maker things and probably do the job yourself in about half the time.

With that said, let’s make some dough!

Perogie Dough

What you need:

4 cups flour (plus, some extra for rolling out the dough)
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs (beaten)
1 cup sour cream (I use reduced fat so that I can pretend to be healthy)
1/2 cup softened butter (cut into smallish pieces)

What you need to do:

In a large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Add eggs, sour cream, and butter. Mix and then knead dough for about 5 minutes – dough should be sticky, but not overly so. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes (or up to 2 days).

Now that your dough is resting comfortably, it’s time to make your filling(s). I have three favorites: sauerkraut, potato & cheese, and cheese. Because I was so partial to my grandfather’s homemade sauerkraut and I have yet to find anything store-bought that compares, I haven’t come up with a sauerkraut filling recipe yet. I can, however, provide a close approximation of how I make my other fillings (remember, I rarely measure anything or write anything down). Feel free to adjust either of these recipes to your taste.

Potato and Cheese Perogie Filling

What you need:

4-5 medium/large potatoes (peeled and cubed)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1-2 Tbs butter
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
white pepper, onion powder, salt to taste

What you need to do:

Boil potatoes until soft – drain and pour into large bowl. Add, sour cream, milk, and butter and mash (I typically just add a little of each and keep mashing with a hand mixer until the potatoes reach the right consistency – like very thick mashed potatoes). Add cheddar cheese, pepper, onion powder, and salt and continue to beat with hand mixer until smooth.

See, easy! Now let’s try the cheese filling (it’s even easier).

Cheese Perogie Filling

What you need:

2 cups farmer cheese
1 egg (beaten)
1 Tbs sugar (I prefer mine a little sweeter, so I do closer to 1 1/2 Tbs)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon juice

What you need to do:

Mix all ingredients together. Et Voila!

Told you it was easy. Now comes the fun part – perogie assembly.

What you need to do:

On a very lightly floured surface, roll out half of your dough. You’ll find that this can be a bit frustrating as the dough is rather elastic and will spring back some every time you roll it out. Roll, roll, roll until the dough is about 1/8″ thick. If you can’t get it quite that thin, don’t worry. Just do the best you can and you can stretch it a little thinner in the next step.

Using a biscuit cutter, glass, or cookie cutter, cut out a circle of dough. If your dough circle is still a bit thick, hold dough firmly and stretch it out in a circular motion until it is a bit thinner. Then, place a small ball of filling in the middle of your dough round.

Here comes the tricky (and, if you made your dough correctly, sticky) part. Carefully fold the dough over your filling, making sure to get the edges as close to even as possible. Pinch the edges of the dough together. They should stick, but if they don’t, dip your finger in some water and run it around the inside edges of the dough and pinch the edges together again. Using the tines of a fork, crimp the edges of your perogie to form a good seal.

Repeat the above steps until you run out of filling and/or dough. I usually end up with around two dozen perogies of various sizes. Heh.

To cook: Drop perogies into a pot of boiling water. Boil until perogies float to the top. Drain. Saute perogies with onions in butter or olive oil until the outside is crispy.

To freeze: Place perogies in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in freezer. Let freeze for at least 30 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and place in freezer bags. To cook, follow the same directions as above.

photos : by yours truly

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