For a couple of weeks now, I have been wanting to try making pierogies from scratch. In part, this is because my husband and I are both part Polish, and I thought he might enjoy a more authentic meal...and in part, it's because my younger sister has fallen in love with Polish food, and she never comes to visit me. So I figured this might entice her to come over, Mickey Mouse style:
We shall see if it works. I found a recipe for potato, onion, and cheese pierogis here: Pierogies and invited Sarah over to cook with me and end the night in a double date dinner with my husband and her boyfriend. (The night turned out even better when her boyfriend offered to make us the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, recipe care of America's Test Kitchen. And holy cow were those ever good! But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Dinner before dessert.)
Dough (we doubled the amount for extra pierogies)
-2 cups of all-purpose flour (and extra for rolling out the pierogies)
-1/2 teaspoon of salt
-1 large egg
-1/2 cup of sour cream, plus extra to serve with the pierogi
-1/4 cup butter, softened and cut into pieces
-Extra butter for frying
-1/2 of a medium Vidalia onion
-Butter for frying
-other 1/2 of vidalia onion
-1/2 bag of red potatoes, peeled and cubed
-4-8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
-Salt and pepper to taste
And so it begins. First, prepare the dough. To get the best consistency, you want your 1/4 cup of softened butter really REALLY soft. To the point that it should melt if you just look at it the wrong way. Since we doubled our batch, we saw firsthand how big of a difference the consistency of the butter made. In our first batch, the butter was soft, but still very solid and kept its shape when cut into pieces. In the second batch, the butter was practically oozing out of its wrapper. The result was that the butter in the first batch still had tiny little butter chunks in it, did not mix as well with the dough, and made the dough dry. We made the mistake of adding water, which created a sticky mess when it came time to roll the dough out. The second batch, however, rolled out smoothly and with no problems. So let that butter soften!
Anyway! To make your dough, mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Beat the egg in a separate bowl, then add to the flour and salt and mix together. Next, add in your sour cream and REALLY SOFT butter, mixing until both ingredients are fully incorporated and the dough loses some of its stickiness. Wrap your dough in plastic and place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
While the dough is refrigerating, make your pierogi filling. First, whip up a batch of mashed potatoes: place your peeled and cubed potatoes in salted, boiling water and boil until soft. Transfer the potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Here is where you can add your personal favorites: Sarah will add anything from cream cheese to sour cream in her potatoes. I typically just add butter and milk to mine (though I would like to try some cream cheese in them when we make them again in the future). You could also add in chives or bacon bits. For this recipe, we added 1/2 the vidalia onion sauteed in butter (until it turned translucent), about 6 ounces of cheese, and a stick of butter. The potatoes were smooth enough that we didn't need milk (and didn't want the potatoes to get too liquidy, because that could make wrapping them in the dough more difficult). A little salt and pepper later, and we put the potato filling in the refrigerator to cool, as well.
Next, assemble the pierogies! If you followed my advice on the soft butter, this will go by fairly quickly. Simply flour an even surface (we rolled out our dough directly on the counter), flour a rolling pin, and roll out the dough to a 1/8 inch thickness or thinner (just make sure you can get the dough back off the counter again!). Using a glass or cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles, approximately 3 inches in diameter. With our pain-in-the-rear-end dough, we were able to cut 12 circles. With our awesome, non-sticky dough, we were able to get at least 15.
Place a tablespoon's worth of the potato filling in the center of each dough circle and wet the edges of the dough with either egg or water. Then, press the edges of the dough together around the potato mixture, using a fork to help seal the edges. Complete this step for all dough circles; they should look similar to the ones below:
Finally, on to the cooking! Pierogies are cooked in two steps: boiling and sauteing. Fill a medium sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water, then add in about a third of your pierogies (so you don't overcrowd the pan). The pierogies will sink to the bottom, and when they float back up to the top, they are done. They will look sticky and glisten at this point, like below:
When you have finished boiling all of your pierogies, it is time for the final cooking step: the saute. Melt some butter in a large skillet (and you can choose to add the other 1/2 of your vidalia onion here for a little added flavor) and again be sure to cook in batches so as not to overcrowd the skillet. Add in enough pierogies to fill the skillet, and cook over medium heat until lightly browned on each side (our cooking times varied thanks to my electric stove, but by the end, it didn't take more than a minute per side to brown the pierogies). You may need to add an extra bit of butter here and there between batches to keep the pierogies from sticking to the pan.
And you're done! We chose to serve our pierogies with kielbasa. See below:
Close-up of browned pierogies (no kielbasa):
And with kielbasa: