Perhaps one of the most recognized wrapped dumpling in the Western world, apart from Chinese and Japanese dumplings, is the Pierogi. Pierogi is plural meaning multiple dumplings. One pierog is singular. So many of the dumplings around the world are made from unleavened dough, formed into a half moon and either boiled, fried or baked, the Pierogi is no exception. However, classically it is boiled and then fried. The pierogi, like so many wonderful dishes, has its roots in “peasant” cuisine. The current variety of recipes that have exploded on to the European, US and international scene are legion.
The pierogi is seen throughout Europe. Known as pirohy in Slovakie, varenyky in Ukraine (https://wrapitupfood.com/vareniki-ukranian-dumplings/), Colțunași in Romania, and are even found in Turkey. What is the origin of this delicious morsel? Unverifiable and unknown. Many countries in Eastern Europe claim the origin of the pierogi. Since Poland is best known,l at least in the US, for the pierogi, there are a number of Polish options for origin.
St. Hyacinth, 1185-1257, is the patron Saint of the pierogi. St. Hyacinth protected his church from the Tartars during their invasion. In recognition of his efforts to save the church the people made pierogi’s. A Second story involving St. Hyacinth concerned his visit to the village of Koscielec on July 13, 1238. St. Hyacinth lead the people during a hail storm in prayer. The next day the crops flourished and the people made these dumplings in his honor. A third story concerning St. Hyacinth is that he made pierogi to feed a starving village during the 1241 Tartar invasion of Poland. It is also claimed that the Tartars were the ones who brought the Pierogi from Russia to Poland during this invasion.
Another potential for pierogi’s origin comes from Marco Polo, 1254-1324. It is claimed he brought back the pierogi concept from the Orient.
The first published recipe of the pierogi dates back to 1682, when Poland’s first cookbook, Compendium Ferculorum, albo Zebranie potraw, written by the famous Polish chef, Stanisław Czerniecki. He featured a recipe for pierogi stuffed with veal kidneys.
During the 1900s and after WWII Polish immigrants to the United States brought the Pierogi with them and introduced it to the American Culture, where it has flourished and thrived.
These delicious dumplings can be savory, sweet, a dessert or main course, an appetizer or a late evening snack. Fillings seem to be only limited by one’s imagination. The following recipe is my iteration of the classic potato/cheese pierogi.
Pierogi (Cheese and Potato)
- 2 cups King Arthur All-Puspose Flour
- ½ tsp Sea salt
- 1 Large egg, beaten and whisked
- ½ cup Cultured sour cream
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup Mashed Russet potatoes
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 cup Extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded
- ¼ tsp White Pepper, finely ground
- ½ Vidalia or yellow onion finely diced
Assembly, cooking and serving
- Large pot of salted boiling water
- 2 tbsp EVOO
- 2 tbsp Unsalted butter
- ½ cup Scallions thinly sliced on the bias
- 2 Shallots thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the flour and salt.
- Bring the butter to just melted, don't get it too hot.
- Add the egg to the sour cream and whisk well, then add the butter, again whisking well.
- With the mixer running at low medium speed, pour in the wet ingredients and mix until all are incorporated and you have a nice dough ball. This will be a moist dough.
- Pour out the dough on a clean floured surface and knead the dough. You should feel a moist dough, but not sticky.
- Once you have a shiny dough ball, wrap it in plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.
- Cut the potatoes into smaller pieces roughly.
- In a sauce pan place the potatoes and water until just covering. Sprinkle in the salt and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer until the potatoes are fork tender and fully cooked.
- Remove from the heat and pour off the water (save the potato water as you may need a little as you make the filling, but it can also be used for soups and stews).
- Mash the potatoes well, then let them cool until warm but not hot. Then add the cheddar, pepper, onion and mix well.
- Set aside the filling until it cools to at least room temperature. You can make the filling the day ahead and refrigerate, but bring to RT when you make the pierogi.
Assembly, cooking and serving
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut into 3 or 4 pieces. For those pieces you are not immediately working with, keep in the covered bowl.
- using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it fits a pasta maker.* Then roll to about 2 mm in thickness, about a 4 setting on my pasta maker.
- Using a 3 inch cookie cutter, cut dough circles.
- Add 2-3 tsp of filling, moisten the edges of the dough circle and fold over the dough to make a half moon shape.
- Seal the edge well. Then using the tines of a fork make a decorative edge, which further seals the pierogi. Place the finished pierogi on a parchment covered cookie sheet.
- Fill a large pot with water and add salt (it should taste like the sea in my opinion), and bring to a boil. You want a pot big enough to fit about 5-10 pierogi without crowding.
- When the pierogi raise to the surface leave them for another 30 seconds then remove with a Spider Strainer and place them in a strainer.**
- Using a large skillet add the butter and EVOO (in a 1:1 ratio) over medium low-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the pierogi and fry until just golden brown.
- Add more butter/EVOO if necessary.
- Remove the fried pierogi, place on paper towels, then serve. Sprinkle them with carmalized shallots (see recipe below) and sliced scallions. Also place a dollop of sour cream (or homemade yogurt) on top as well.
- 10-15 Shallots
- 2 tsp unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp honey
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp ground white pepper
- 2 tsp EVOO
- Peel the shallots and slice them thinly to about ⅛ inch thick
- Place the shallots in a bowl. Add the butter, honey, salt and pepper and mix well.
- Add the EVOO to a fry pan and bring to a shimmer over low heat*.
- Add the shallot mixture and cook until browned, soft and tasty. Taste them and add extra honey, salt or pepper as you wish.
- Once cooked they will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 week. They can be used as a condiment for sandwiches, salads, and for pierogi as in the above recipe.