The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.
I really enjoyed learning a little about these delicious buns of goodness, and if you have a personal story about your family and Pierogi or Piroshki, I'd love to hear it. For me, it's all about my husband's family. His dad and Aunt F. have Russian heritage from their mom.
One of my first holidays spent with my husband's family included watching his aunt and mom on center kitchen stage as they rolled out dough, simmered beef and onions with spices, wrapped up the filling and rolled out the "Pidus'ki" (spelled the way they pronounce it). My father-in-law and my husband can put about 6-8 of these puffy buns away in one sitting. Since the Daring Cook's Challenge introduced the boiled Pierogi, I made both. Hey, you know me - never just one thing at a time.
First: Here's the Daring Cook's Recipe for Pierogi -
Russian style pierogi (makes 4 generous servings, around 30 dumplings)
(Traditional Polish recipe, although each family will have their own version, this is Anula's family recipe)
2 to 2 1/2 cups (300 to 375 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
About 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water
Filling: (I made Spinach and Potatoes with Ricotta Cheese)
3 big potatoes, cooked & mashed (1 1/2 cup instant or leftover mashed potatoes is fine too)
1 cup (225 g) cottage cheese, drained
1 onion, diced & sauteed in butter until clear
3 slices of streaky bacon, diced and fried till crispy (you can add more bacon if you like or omit that part completely if you’re vegetarian)
1 egg yolk (from medium egg)
1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, melted
1/4 (1.25 ml) teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper to taste
1. Combine all the ingredients for the filling (it’s best to use one’s hands to do that) put into the bowl, cover and set aside in the fridge until you have to use it.
2. Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little lukewarm at a time (in my situation 1/2 cup was enough). Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. You’re aiming for soft dough. Let it rest 20 minutes.
3. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly (1/8” or about 3 millimeters) cut with a 2-inch (5 cm) round or glass (personally I used 4-inch/10 cm cutter as it makes nice size pierogi - this way I got around 30 of them and 1 full, heaped teaspoon of filling is perfect for that size). Spoon a portion (teaspoon will be the best) of the filling into the middle of each circle. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together. Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining dough.
4. Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in the pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Return to the boil and reduce heat. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more ( usually about 5 minutes). Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi from the water.
5. Serve immediately preferably with creme fraiche or fry. Cold pierogi can be fried. Boiled Russian pierogi can be easily frozen and boiled taken out straight from the freezer.
AND NOW: Piroshki!
I recommend both of these as they are very simple and have tons of options. Although, if you make the Piroshki - at least take a moment and think about how you were given a recipe that has been passed down from several generations of proud and talented Russian cooks.
RECIPE: Piroshki (as told by Aunt F.)
1 pkg. dry yeast
1 1/3 cup milk
2 T. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs (beaten)
4 cups flour
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion chopped very fine
1 tsp. salt black pepper to taste
Saute onion in a bit of olive oil until soft (I caramelized these)
Remove from pan.
Add ground beef to pan and brown Drain well and return to pan
Add onion and seasoning (I added a little crushed red pepper) and mix well.
Let cool while making dough
Scald milk, add butter and let cool about 5 minutes.
Add yeast and sugar to milk mixture
Place flour and salt into large mixing bowl.
Add beaten eggs and milk mixture.
Beat vigorously with wooden spoon until smooth.
Cover with oiled wax paper Let rise until doubled
Once dough has risen, place onto floured surface and let rest 10 minutes
Dough will be very soft.
Working with half of the dough at a time, roll out to a little less than 1/4 inch using enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the surface and rolling pin.
Cut into 4 inch squares
Fill each with about 3 T. of meat filling
Bring opposite corners to center of Piroshki and pinch to seal, creating a bundle. Place bundle with smooth surface as the top (corners are the underside of the piroshki) onto lightly greased cookie sheet.
Let rise until double in size Bake 20 minutes at 375 F.