I’m approximately 72.5793% Slovak. Approximate guess. OKAY, random number I made up. But needless to say this fine specimen (me, of course) is mostly Slovak. I may, however, lose some Eastern European credit when I confess that I have never made homemade pierogi before now. I’ve eaten them many a time but never have these hands made them. *Sigh* Yes, I am ashamed.
My grandpa used to help make pierogi at his church and he would bring some back sometimes to eat. I’m pretty sure that when I say he helped “make” pierogi, he actually spent most of the time telling jokes and stories. However, the actual cooks were most likely well entertained during the pierogi-making process. And we were all happy to end up with tasty pierogi.
Since I had little idea of where to start making pierogi, I went to my trusty Slovak cookbook my grandma gave me many years ago filled with a wonderful mix of Slovak recipes and random recipes (I’m just guessing that chop suey is not Slovak…could be wrong). However, when the pierogi recipe called for 1 cup of flour and 1 potato to make 50 pierogi, I knew I probably would need a miracle from God to make that work. So, instead I found my way to the trusty internet and put together a mix of what I saw there with what my parents could tell me about how my grandparents would make pierogi and here is the end result.
These would be really good to make with friends, especially those with good jokes and stories like my grandpa had. I’m not saying they are hard to make, but very time consuming because so much love needs to go into each individual pierogi. Luckily, this recipe makes a good number of pierogi and once you have a system down, it wouldn’t be hard to make more! Just make sure your arms are up for a workout with all the dough rolling!
*Note: Yes, the plural is actually pierogi, not pierogies as many people say. It may even be spelled pirohy if you are Slovak. Only if you are Slovak can you spell it that way. Sorry non-Slovak friends. Such is life.
- 3 cups flour
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1/2 to 3/4 cups of warm water
- chives for garnish, optional
- 5 medium potatoes (I used red potatoes)
- 4-6 ounces of cheddar cheese, to taste, grated
- 1/2 to 1 onion, to taste
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tablespoon of butter (to saute onion)
- pinch of salt & pepper
- 1/4 cup cooked bacon, optional
- Mix the flour and salt together and pour on a flat surface. Form a well in the middle of the flour then add the milk and 1 tablespoon of melted butter to the well.
- Start incorporating the milk and butter into the flour until you form a dough. Add water, as necessary, to help form the dough. I ended up using about 1/2 cup of water, but you may need more or less.
- Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until a ball forms (Yes, you are reading that right. Turn on the TV or have a nice conversation while this is happening!)
- Cover the dough ball with a bowl or in plastic wrap. Let sit about half an hour to rest.
- While the dough is resting, peel and cut the potatoes into about 1 inch pieces. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Let boil until the potatoes are fork tender. This process will take about 20 minutes.
- Puree the onion and garlic in a food processor (you can also chop them into small pieces but my husband and I don't love onions so I pureed them to hide the texture a bit)
- Saute the onion and garlic mixture in 1 tablespoon of butter for about 5 minutes until the onions turn slightly transparent and start to brown.
- Drain and mash the potatoes, saving about 1/4 cup of the potato water to thin the potatoes if needed (you can also use milk or regular water to thin the potatoes).
- Mix in the cheddar cheese, onion and garlic mixture, salt and pepper, and bacon to the potatoes. Add potato water or milk to thin the mashed potatoes if needed.
- Divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces to make it easier to work with. Keep the extra pieces covered while working.
- Roll the dough thin and cut into circles with a cookie cutter or glass.
- Put about a teaspoon of potato filling into the center.
- Wet one side of the dough circle with water to help seal and fold the pierogi in half.
- Use a fork to seal the edges (and make it look pretty!)
- Place about 8 pierogi at a time in boiling, salted water. Let the pierogi float to the top then cook for one additional minute. Let drain on a drying rack or towel.
- Fry in butter until golden brown. Garnish with chives to serve.
- You can also serve pierogi with sour cream on top. My grandma would always finish the pierogi by frying them in butter along with onions (again, not a huge onion fan so I put the onion in the filling instead). I actually used bacon fat from cooking the bacon to fry the pierogi the first time we ate these. Also delicious. Pierogi freeze well after they are boiled. Just let them dry off a bit once they come out of the water so they don't stick together. I put parchment paper between the layers of pierogi before freezing as well. When you bring them out out of the freezer you can just fry them up, even without defrosting prior to cooking.