Daring Cooks August Challenge: Pierogi

The August 2010 Daring Cooks Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n'Bites and Anula of Anula's Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.

Pierogi are still one of my most vivid memory about my 5months-exchange-stay in Poland. At that time I was still going to discover my passion for cooking and making things from scratch. Usually I bought frozen stuff from the supermarket, and my favourite were pierogi. I guess I ate all kinds you can find there - sweet and savoury ones, filled with strawberries or meat or potatoes ... The sweet ones were topped with vanilla flavoured curd queese, and the savoury ones were served in an onion soup topped with sour cream. Every time I come back to Poland for a visit, I am taking a bag of them with me. One day I was even lucky enough to get a bunch of home-made pierogi from a Polish friend (staying in Germany for an exchange)- her grandma made them and it was nearly a sacrifice for her to give them to me. So sorry girls, I am not going to mess with the traditional Polish recipe in honor of my melancholic memories of the most delicious Polish food I can remember. I'm keeping with the original.

Russian Style Pierogi (Anula's family recipe)
Makes around 30 dumplings

  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups (300 to 375 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
  • About 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water
  • 3 big potatoes, cooked & mashed (1 1/2 cup instant or leftover mashed potatoes is fine too)
  • 1 cup (225 g) cottage cheese, drained 1 onion, diced & sauteed in butter until clear
  • 3 slices of streaky bacon, diced and fried till crispy
  • 1 egg yolk (from medium egg)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, melted
  • 1/4 (1.25 ml) teaspoon salt
  • pinch of pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients for the filling (it's best to use one's hands to do that) put into the bowl, cover and set aside in the fridge until you have to use it.
Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little lukewarm at a time (in my situation 1/2 cup was enough). Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. You're aiming for soft dough. Let it rest 20 minutes.
On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly (1/8" or about 3 millimeters) cut with a 2-inch (5 cm) round or glass. Spoon a portion (teaspoon will be the best) of the filling into the middle of each circle. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together. Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining dough. Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in the pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Return to the boil and reduce heat.
When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more ( usually about 5 minutes). Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi from the water. Serve immediately preferably with crème fraiche or fry. Cold pierogi can be fried. Boiled Russian pierogi can be easily frozen and boiled taken out straight from the freezer.
I fired mine in butter with some spring onions and topped them with a spoonful of creme fraiche.

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