Potato, Onion, & Cheddar Pierogi

One of my greatest pleasures is listening to others recount their lifelong misadventures and memories. I love when someone answers the question, “how are you?” honestly. I love folklore, fairy tales, and nostalgia. Even if the teller’s tale is not truth per say, it still holds a similar significance, perhaps only as an imaginative autobiography. The first time I made pierogi, I asked my Ukrainian friend, Natalie, to teach me. Even though I have had pierogi many times before, cooking with Natalie is the way I now think about them – standing around a kitchen table and catching her nibbling at the filling as we worked.

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Natalie told me that pierogi was a very common food in a Ukrainian household, not a rarity to be consumed merely around Lent. She also explained that their popularity was due less to their deliciousness, but rather their affordability.

When we were cutting out the dough, I asked what size the rounds should be. She told me they needed to be small because she was told growing up that a housewife’s worth could be judged by how petite she could make these little dumplings.

Potato, Onion, & Cheddar Pierogi (yields approximately 14 2×3 in. pierogi)

Filling:
3 medium potatoes
1 T. butter
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic
1/3 c. cheddar
1/3 c. buttermilk
salt & pepper

To begin, boil a pot of water. While the water is heating, peel three potatoes and chop them into pieces about 1×1 inch. Once the water is at a rolling boil, place potatoes in the pot. Boil until soft (about 8-15 minutes depending on the ripeness. Mine were a bit soft to begin with) and drain water. Place potatoes in a medium bowl.

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Meanwhile, saute one minced onion in 1 T. butter. and one crushed & minced clove of garlic until browned & fragrant

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Transfer the onions to the medium bowl with the potatoes & add the 1/3 c. of cheddar cheese. Sprinkle salt & pepper on the mixture & mash to combine.

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Dough Recipe:
2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 egg
1/2 c. warm water
1/4 c. buttermilk

Because Natalie shared with me the economical significance of pierogi, I thought I would stick with a very basic dough. There are other doughs that use melted butter & sour cream, but since I use those ingredients to pan fry and garnish, I thought I might as well leave them out.

To begin, combine flour & salt in a bowl. In a well in the center, add the egg, buttermilk, & water. Gradually mix into the dough. The dough should not be too sticky and feels very soft.

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On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/16 inch thickness.

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With a round cookie cutter, glass, or small bowl, cut out circles in the dough until the dough is used up.

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 Shaping the dough

In order to shape the dough, it is best to get a little dish of water to help the dough stick once folded. To begin, roll the potato mixture into a small ball and place on the dough. Then, wet one half of the circle with a dab of water. Fold the dough in half and gently pull up over over potato ball. With a finger and a thumb, start at the corner and squeeze the dough together, forming small indents all the way around until the circle is a closed semicircle

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Repeat until all the pierogi are folded.

In order to finish these treats, we must boil them. In a large pot, bring water to a rolling boil. Plop the pierogi in and allow them to cook until they begin floating to the surface. At this point, remove them with a slitted spoon.

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In order to make them delicious though, pan-frying is the way to go (but only pan-fry the ones you want to eat right away!)

To pan-fry
In a saute pan, saute sliced onions (approx half a medium onion, or a whole small onion) with 1 T. butter. Once cooked down for a minute, add a few pierogi & pan fry together.

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Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream, caramelized onions, or applesauce.

So maybe you are thinking “hey wait! This portion isn’t very small!” Well, well, well. I freeze the majority of them. In order to reheat, boil them again & pan-fry. 🙂 This recipe makes a perfect meal for today and a perfect lazy meal for next week!

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