Sunday, August 15, 2010

Daring Cooks--Pierogis

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.

We're a little late on this challenge, but better late than never, I suppose. The pierogi challenge led to all sorts of brainstorming and we came up with a lot of different potential fillings. But in the we end decided to, for the most part, stick with the standard recipe.

The original recipe contained potatoes with cheese, onion,  and bacon, and we added cheddar cheese and a roasted poblano pepper. We also decided to serve the pierogies with a corn sauce in order to make the dish a bit more seasonally appropriate. Ultimately, though, we sort of served the corn on the side, rather than as a sauce because we just wanted to get the heck out of the kitchen.

The corn 'sauce,' by the way, was our super-fabulous Creamless Creamed Corn. If you don't really feel like going to the trouble of making your own pierogies, we would still really suggest making the creamless creamed corn, because it's awesome.

Because I prefer pierogies that have been boiled then pan-seared, we went with that technique, but it's entirely optional. The original recipe called for what seemed to me to be a small amount of dough, and we had a ton of leftover filling. This wasn't really a problem, as the filling was delicious, but in the recipe below I've tripled the dough recipe in an attempt to have a more appropriate dough-to-filling ratio.


  • 6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 teaspoon salt
  • About 3 cups lukewarm water  
  • 3 potatoes
  • Butter-1/2 to 3 tablespoons
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup cottage cheese, drained  
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 3 slices of  bacon, cooked till crispish and diced (you can add more bacon if you like or omit that part completely if you’re vegetarian)
  • 1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Place the 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.

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, dry dough. Let it rest for 20 minutes.

While the dough rests, cut the potatoes into largish chunks. Place the chunks in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Place on the stove, bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are easy to break apart with a fork (about 20 minutes).
Drain the potatoes and dump them back into the saucepan. While the potatoes are boiling, saute the onion with a little bit of butter over medium heat, until they're soft and transparent. When the onions are ready, add them to the potatoes.
Add the cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon and poblanos. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly (1/8” or about 3 millimeters) cut with a 2 to 5 inch round cookie cutter, or a glass. Spoon a portion (a teaspoon to a tablespoon, depending on the size of your cutting implement) of the filling into the middle of each circle.
Fold the dough in half and pinch the edges together. If necessary, wet the edges with a little bit of water to help them adhere. Gather the scraps of dough, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in the pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Return to a boil and reduce the heat a little bit. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more ( usually about 2-3 minutes).

Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. It should be firm (not mushy), but no longer doughy and raw-tasting. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogies from the water.

This part is optional--melt about 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. When the butter is hot enough that a pierogi placed in the pan makes a sizzling noise, add the pierogies, without crowding the pan too much, and toss them around until they're golden brown.

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