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Baba's Pierogies

The weather is finally cooling down, the days are getting shorter, and we got some beautiful potatoes during weeks 1 and 2.  Since I blocked off an entire day of prep on Saturday, I decided to try a time consuming favorite – potato and cheddar pierogies.  As with most traditional recipes, every family has a favorite recipe.

This recipe was passed on from my grandmother (we call her Baba) to my sister.  Of course, Baba never measures – the recipe is in her bones – but this is the result of my experimentation with her directions.

As children, we couldn’t wait for a visit from Baba because it meant “pierogi day.”  She kept a large wooden board at our house solely for the purpose of making them during her yearly visit.  The night before pierogi day, she’d boil a large pot of potatoes and make the filling.  That morning, she’d take a pound of butter and melt it in a pot, then slow cook chopped onions in the clarified yellow liquid for the entire day, until they became translucent and sweet.  Next, she’d make the dough, then sit down at the kitchen table and really get to work.  We’d sit and talk and watch, and pretty soon there would be sheet trays full of pierogi on the kitchen table.  And the dining room table.  And the coffee table…

That night, we’d all sit down for a pierogi dinner.  I preferred mine boiled, while my brother liked his browned and crisped in a pan.  Baba knew exactly how we liked them and would make them to order.  After we all had our fill, the rest would go into the freezer for a later date (most likely later that night, or the next day for lunch.  You literally had to fight for them in our house).

Cooking this recipe brought back so many good memories, and Baba will be happy that I learned how to make them.  I had enough left to freeze some, and I’m going to try to save them until my sister comes to visit!

INGREDIENTS

Filling:

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Black Pepper (to taste)

Dough:

  • 3 cups flour, plus extra
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg

DIRECTIONS

  1. Several hours before you’re ready to stuff the pierogies, make the filling.  Peel and quarter potatoes, and boil until soft.
  2. Drain potatoes and return to a bowl.  While still hot, add cubed cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper to the bowl.  When the cheese melts, mash the potatoes.
  3. After mixture comes to room temperature, place the bowl in the fridge.  Chill for several hours.
  4. To make the dough, heat the milk and butter together on the stove until the milk is warm and the butter is melted.
  5. Sift salt and flour into a large bowl.  Make a well and add the egg, slightly scrambled.
  6. Begin stirring the egg into the flour, while slowly pour the milk mixture into the bowl.  Stop adding milk when the wet and dry ingredients form a slightly sticky dough.  You may need more or less wet ingredients depending on the moisture in your kitchen.
  7. Allow the dough to rest, covered, until it cools down.
  8. Sprinkle more flour into the bowl and knead.  Continue working flour into the dough until it no longer sticks, but but springs back at the touch.
  9. Divide the dough into tennis ball size portions.  Cover the remaining dough.
  10. Roll the dough out on a clean surface, and cut into 2 x 2 inch squares (you can also cut circles with a cookie cutter or drinking glass).
  11. Take approximately one tablespoon of filling and put it in the center of the square.  Pinch two opposite corners together, above the filling, then pinch down each side until a triangle is formed.  Ensure that the dough is sealed, or the pierogies will leak during boiling.
  12. Line the completed dumplings on a cookie sheet.  You can freeze them at this point for boiling at a later time.
  13. To cook, drop the pierogies into boiling water, and cook until they rise to the top of the pot.
  14. Serve with clarified butter and onions or sour cream.

Above is a short video I made of the process.

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