Potato and Cheese Pierogies are a cherished comfort food that exudes warmth and tradition. These yummy potato filled dumplings were always a staple on our dinner table for our Feast of the Seven Fishes celebration on Christmas Eve. Typically, I make them twice a year; during lent, and a few weeks before Christmas. While the process of pierogi making is truly a labor of love, trust me, the effort is truly worth it once you bite into one of these soft handmade dumplings.
What are Pierogies
Pierogies are a traditional Eastern European dish made by wrapping pockets of unleavened dough around various fillings and cooking them in boiling water. They are then typically either pan-fried or boiled and often served with toppings like butter, onions or sour cream.
The choice of fillings makes pierogies an incredibly versatile dish. Growing up we typically made pierogies filled with potato and cheese, sauerkraut or prunes.
While the most traditional and popular filling for pierogi is a mixture of potatoes and cheese, there’s a wide range of alternative fillings you can use to make this versatile dish:
- Meat Fillings: Ground meats such as beef, pork, chicken, or a combination of these, seasoned with various herbs and spices, can be used as a savory filling for pierogies.
- Vegetarian Fillings: Pierogies can be filled with various vegetarian options such as sautéed mushrooms, spinach, sauerkraut, mashed peas, lentils, or a medley of mixed vegetables.
- Sweet Fillings: While pierogies are commonly associated with savory fillings, they can also be made with sweet fillings for a dessert-style option. Fillings like sweetened mashed fruits (such as berries, cherries, or apples), jams, sweetened cheese, or even a chocolate-hazelnut spread can be used to create delightful sweet pierogies.
- Cheese Fillings: Apart from the traditional potato and cheese filling, other cheese options can be used. Creamy cheeses like ricotta, farmer’s cheese, cottage cheese, feta, or goat cheese mixed with herbs, onions, or other flavorful ingredients can create delicious variations.
- Combination Fillings: Mix and match various ingredients to create unique combinations. For instance, a filling made with mashed potatoes, caramelized onions, and bacon, or a blend of spinach and feta cheese, can offer exciting flavor profiles.
How to Make Pierogi from Scratch
As mentioned earlier, making pierogi from scratch is quite the labor of love. Easily, prepare the filling a day in advance, if you desire. Grab a buddy or two, and the process will go by faster than you think:
- Prepare the Filling:
- Peel and cube the potatoes. Place them in a pot of water with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until fork-tender, ensuring not to overcook.
- While the potatoes are cooking, shred the cheeses.
- Once cooked, drain the potatoes and return them to the pot to allow any excess water to evaporate over low heat. Avoid adding any dairy at this stage.
- Using a hand mixer, gradually incorporate the shredded cheeses into the potatoes in batches. Taste and adjust salt if needed. Refrigerate the potato mixture to cool while preparing the dough.
- Make the Dough:
- In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt. Create a well in the center. Add the beaten egg and sour cream. Gently combine.
- Gradually add water, a little at a time, until a soft dough forms. Adjust by adding more flour if too wet or more water if too dry.
- Knead the dough on a floured surface for 3 to 4 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Forming the Pierogies:
- Divide the dough into four pieces, keeping unused portions refrigerated. Roll out the dough thinly on a floured surface.
- Use a biscuit cutter or glass to cut the dough into circles. Gently stretch each circle to make it slightly larger.
- Fill each circle with the cooled potato-cheese mixture. Moisten the edges with water, fold over, and press to seal.
- Cooking and Serving:
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. In a separate pan, melt a stick of butter and sauté half a diced white onion until golden brown.
- Gently boil the pierogies for about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the pan with the browned butter and onions.
Tips on Making Homemade Pierogies
- Ensure the dough is kneaded adequately, but not overworked.
- Resting the pierogie dough in the fridge will make the dough easier to work with.
- Cutting the dough into 3″ rounds creates a generous size pierogi.
- We have experimented with a lot of cheese, this combination seems to suit our tastes perfectly.
- Avoid overfilling, as the pierogies may burst upon cooking.
- Seal tightly by pressing the dough with your fingers, or using a fork.
- Use a large pot to boil the pierogies to avoid overcrowding.
- Once the pierogi float to the top, allow them cook for just a minute or two before removing them from the pot.
- Experiment with a variety of fillings.
How to Serve and Store Homemade Pierogies
- To enjoy immediately, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. In a separate pan, melt a stick of butter and half an onion, diced. Allow both to brown. Gently boil the homemade pierogies for about five minutes. Once they float to the top, cook for another minute then transfer the pierogies directly to butter and onions with a slotted spoon.
- Serve freshly cooked pierogies hot with a side of sour cream and/or a sprinkle of fresh herbs.
- Leftover pierogies can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To freeze uncooked pierogi, arrange the formed pierogies on a baking sheet in a single layer and flash freeze before transferring them to an airtight container or bag. This prevents them from sticking together.
- Frozen pierogies can be cooked directly from frozen, adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time. They will last up to 3 months in the freezer.
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