Wednesday, December 14, 2011


With both of us home on a Sunday, we opted for a more time-consuming dish and decided to make pierogies.  (Not to mention Sean's Ukrainian heritage...)  It was well worth the time and effort, and we had the help from our friend RJ.  We chose two different fillings, one potato based, and the other with sour kraut.  Both had fried onions and bits of bacon mixed in to make them extra tasty.  The dough was simple, but filling the pierogies does take time and focus.  Finally, they are boiled and then fried in bacon fat for a little browning.  The final product is served with sour cream and more onions.  It was the perfect comfort food for our Sunday dinner!

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup water
1 large egg
1/2 t salt
2 t vegetable oil

Potato Filling:
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 oz cream cheese (a fourth of a package)
4 oz shredded cheddar
2 strips of cooked crumbled bacon
a couple spoonfuls of the fried onion
salt and pepper

Sour Kraut Filling:
1 package of sour kraut, drained well (about 2 cups)
2 strips of cooked crumbled bacon
a couple spoonfuls of fried onion

sour cream
extra fried onions (we ended up using one large onion for the whole dish)
green onions
crumbled bacon (optional, but definitely have as a topping if you choose to exclude it from the pierogi filling)

Begin by making the dough.  It has to rest for one hour before rolling.  (we couldn't wait quite that long) In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt.  Make a well in the middle and pour in the water and oil, and add the egg.  Scramble the egg into the water, and begin to incorporate the flour from the edges until it is all mixed in.  Take the dough to a kneading surface with extra flour and knead for 5-10 minutes or until the dough is soft and stretchy.

Cover the dough with a clean dish towel to let it rest. Next, begin the potato filling.  Cover the potatoes in a pot with water and salt, and bring to a boil.  Boil them until tender, about 15 minutes (depending on the exact size of your potatoes).  Meanwhile, fry the four pieces of bacon (or more), reserving bacon fat for the onions and cooked pierogies.  Leave about 2 T bacon in the pan for the onion.  Slice the onion and fry it over medium heat in the bacon fat, added a bit of extra salt if needed.  Let them cook until they are browned and soft, but not mushy.  Remove from heat.
After the potatoes have drained, return to the pot and and mash.  Then, add the cream cheese and stir to combine.  Finally, add the grated cheddar cheese.  The mixture should be dry... don't add water or milk like you might do for mashed potatoes, because you want the pierogi filling to be firm.  Then, add the about half of the crumbled bacon and a few spoonfuls of the fried onion.
For the sour kraut filling, mix the drained sour kraut with the rest of the bacon and a few spoonfuls of onion.  
Now that the fillings are ready to go, begin to prepare the dough.  This amount of dough is enough to make 48 pierogies.  Start by cutting the dough in half.  Keep one half under the towel so it doesn't dry out, while you use the other half.  Cut the dough into 24 even pieces.  They will seem pretty small when you are done, but they are rolled thin so it works out.  Sprinkle some flour on your rolling surface, and also have flour available to coat the rolling pin as needed so it won't stick.  Start to roll out the pieces of dough, and they will be about 3 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick when ready to be filled.

To fill the pierogies, place a heaping teaspoon of filling on one side of the dough circle, but not too close to the edges.  Have a small bowl of water nearby to dip your finger in to wet the edges of the dough. Then, fold it over and press edges to seal.  Continue filling, and prepare for the next step - boiling.  Having people to help and setting up an assembly line makes it much easier!

Boil some water in a large pot, and boil the pierogies for about 30 seconds to 1 minute or until they come to a float.  Don't over-crowd the pot... we didn't do more than 5 or 6 at a time. Drain them when they are done boiling, and prepare for the final step which is to brown them in a skillet with bacon fat.  Heat the bacon fat over medium and place the pierogies in the pan.  After about 2 minutes or until crisping, flip and cook one minute longer.  Remove and continue doing this one batch at a time.

After all of your hard work, you will be rewarded with a beautiful plateful of pierogies!  If you are serving this for a meal, we all ate 9 each as a serving size estimate.
Top with sour cream, extra fried onions, and green onions.

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