Potato and Cheese Pierogi
Pierogi are traditional Polish noodle dumplings, filled with a variety of classic sweet and savory mixtures. For this recipe, we've chosen to make a basic potato-cheese filling and serve them as a side dish topped with sour cream, garlic and chive sauce. Our family recipe, combined with a fairly standard dough preparation method, produces an exceptionally light and tender finished product. The secret? Pinching off portions of dough and rolling them individually to avoid overworking it.
- For the dough:
- 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 3/4 to 1 cup water
- For the filling:
- 1-1/2 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3/4 to 1 cup grated dry farmer's cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- For the finished dish:
- 1/2 stick butter, cut into 1 tablespoon portions
- 1 recipe Sour Cream Garlic-Chive Sauce
For the dough:
In a large bowl or mixer, combine the flour, eggs, sour cream and 1/2 cup of water. Beat the eggs as you mix and gradually add the rest of the water until the mixture is combined.
Turn the dough onto a well floured surface. Knead it gently, using a dropping technique (lift the dough from the surface and drop it down). Knead only until the ingredients are blended and the dough is smooth and slightly sticky, about 3 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to over work the dough.
Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
For the filling:
Put the potatoes in a medium pot and add just enough cold, salted water to cover them. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.
While the potatoes cook, melt the butter and oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the onion, garlic and thyme, cooking until the onion turns translucent, about 2 minutes. Lower the heat and continue cooking until onions caramelize slightly, about 20 minutes. You may need to add a bit more butter as the onion and garlic mixture cooks. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool.
When the potatoes are soft, drain them in a colander and lightly press out the remaining moisture. Return them to the pot, remove from heat and add the cooled onion mixture and the cheese. Mash them just until blended and large lumps are gone. Season again with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool while you roll out the pierogi dough.
Assemble and cook:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. With lightly floured hands, pinch off tablespoon sized portions of the dough and roll them into balls. The balls should be about 1-1/2 inches in diameter, yielding about 3 dozen total.
On a well floured surface, gently roll each ball with a rolling pin until about 1/8 inch thick and 3-1/2 inches round. Cover the finished rounds with a damp towel so they don't dry out while you're working.
Once your rounds are rolled out, hold each in the palm of your hand, filling the center of it with a generous tablespoon of the potato mixture. Gently fold the round in half, pulling the edges away and pinching them firmly shut to enclose the filling. Be sure the edges are sealed by working from one end to the other.
As you work, set your filled pierogi aside on a floured surface and cover them with plastic wrap.
Working in batches, drop no more than 6 pierogi at a time into the boiling water. After they float back to the surface, allow them to cook another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove the pierogi with a slotted spoon and place on a towel to drain and cool.
Sauté and serve:
To finish the dish, heat a tablespoon or two of butter in a pan over medium heat and briefly sauté them in batches until they are slightly crispy and brown on the exterior. Transfer to a serving dish and top with Sour Cream Garlic-Chive Sauce.
Makes about 3-1/2 dozen
We first saw the instructions for rolling the dough for the pierogi individually in the May 2000 issue of Fine Cooking Magazine. Prior to that we followed our family recipe to the letter and rolled the dough into large rectangles, cut circles with a biscuit cutter and re-rolled the scraps. Rolling each pierogi individually produces a much more delicate, tender dumpling (sorry Grandma).
Our Polish-American relatives frequently served pan-fried kielbasa (Polish smoked sausage) along with pierogi, although we've been informed a number of times that this is not a common combination in Poland. As an alternative, we took some boneless pork chops, rubbed them with some kielbasa-style seasonings and pan-seared them.
- Kielbasa-Spice Rubbed Pork Chops
- 1 to 1-1/4 lbs boneless pork chops (3/4-inch thick)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and rub the pork chops on both sides about 1 hour before cooking.
To cook, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chops in a single layer and sear until lightly browned and very pale pink in the center, 2 minutes per side.
Makes 4 servings