When it comes to flat out comfort food, pierogies have it nailed. Potatoes and cheese wrapped up in a precious little pocket of dough? I call that satisfying, convenient and cute all in one. Although pierogies fit right in with the beige, starchy central Pennsylvania fare I grew up on, I never really ate them until I met my man. One of our earliest dates was a gathering for his birthday at Warszawa, a Polish restaurant in Santa Monica. It had been an annual tradition for his friends for years, but as the new woman in his life and the curious cook that I am, I had to shake up that tradition and try making them at home.
Pierogies are easy, but here’s a video I made to help you navigate the process. Note that pierogies are actually done cooking about 5 minutes after they float to the surface–oops!
Obviously, I rely on the Kitchenaid sheet roller pasta attachment to get me through the rough part of rolling the dough, but if you don’t have one, don’t be discouraged. It won’t be hard to roll out the dough for this recipe, and it will bring you one step closer to the Polish women of yesteryear.
I usually stick to the same potato and cheese filling that my friends devour like savages. However, this year, I branched out a bit. Because lately I’ve been finding a way to add Asian influence to everything I eat, I had to try this Green Onion Oil filling that I found on Momofukufor2.com. I used scallions from the garden, fresh ginger and sesame oil, and followed their suggestion to add 4 tablespoons to the potatoes. I served them with a simple soy sauce dipping sauce, and people liked them, but they made a point to tell me that they liked the good old potato filling the best.
I also tried Martha Stewart’s recipe for Mushroom Pierogies. The filling is basically pure mushroom, and I think it would have benefited from something to cut it with, like ricotta cheese. However, mushrooms and ricotta pretty much make them ravioli, and it wasn’t that kind of party. Potatoes and cheese reign supreme.
I don’t know if it was actually the pierogies that helped me score the Pole in my life, but I like to believe they had something to do with it. Either way, I got a new man, a new recipe, and new traditions to mess with, so I’m feeling pretty damn lucky.
Pierogi Dough (makes about 32 pierogies, using a 3-inch cutter)
Adapted from Epicurious.com
- 1 cup all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading and rolling
- 3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup water
Stir together flours in a bowl. Make a well in flour and add eggs, salt, and water, then stir together with a fork without touching flour. Continue stirring, gradually incorporating flour into well until a soft dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead, adding only as much additional flour as needed to keep dough from sticking, until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. (Dough will be soft.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature at least 30 minutes.
Cooks’ note: Dough may be made 2 hours ahead, wrapped well in plastic wrap and chilled. Bring to room temperature before using. Only make the dough on the day you plan to make the pierogies. Otherwise, it will oxidize and turn a greenish-gray color. If you’re not making the pierogies the same day, freeze the dough for later use.
Potato and Cheese Filling (this makes more than you’ll need to fill the dough, but if you’re hungry, make more dough!)
Adapted from Epicurious.com
- 1 1/2 pound russet (baking) potatoes
- 6 ounces coarsely grated extra-sharp white Cheddar (2 1/4 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Cook potatoes in a large saucepan of boiling water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes, then transfer to a bowl along with cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and mash with a potato masher or a handheld electric mixer at low speed until smooth.
Cut dough into quarters. Feed them, one at a time, through a Kitchenaid sheet roller pasta attachment, starting at Level 1 and progressing to Level 4, dusting the dough with more flour between levels. If you’re rolling by hand, roll out 1 quarter on lightly floured surface (do not overflour surface or dough will slide instead of stretching) with a lightly floured rolling pin until dough is 1/8 inch thick. Cut out about 6 or 7 rounds with a lightly floured cutter. Wet the edges of the bottom half of a dough circle. Form about 1 tablespoon of filling into a ball and place it in the center of the round. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together to seal completely. Do not leave any gaps or pierogi may open during cooking. Transfer pierogi to a baking sheet lined with a lightly floured kitchen towel (not terry cloth) or parchment paper and cover with another towel. Form more pierogies in same manner.
Note: The dough scraps can be re-rolled once, but beyond that, the dough will get tougher and your pierogies will get heavier. Proceed with caution.
If you’re not cooking the pierogies that day, they need to be frozen, or the dough will oxidize and turn greenish-gray. Put the tray of pierogies into the freezer and once they’re frozen, you can transfer them to a Ziploc freezer bag.
If you’re cooking the pierogies immediately, bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of water to a boil. Add half of pierogies, stirring once or twice to keep them from sticking together, and cook 5 minutes from time pierogies float to surface. Transfer to a colander.
Serve plain or toss with caramelized onions.