Daring Cooks: The World of Pierogi

This is another great example of why I love the Daring Cooks’ and Bakers’ Challenges. It’s all about taking yourself out of your box – making something you wouldn’t ordinarily make. Maybe this “something” seems too difficult. Maybe it seems as though it will take too long, or maybe it’s been on your list of “things to do”, but you haven’t gotten around to making it yet.

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.

I never tried to make pierogies before this challenge. Not because of the reasons mentioned above. Honestly, I never even tried eating them before either. They didn’t sound unappetizing, of course, but they weren’t on the top of my list of things to try. I didn’t know what to expect with this challenge because of my lack of experience with pierogies, so I was a bit nervous. But after brainstorming on fillings (I chose to make sweet potato and rosemary, as I had a bunch of rosemary in my garden, and smoked pork shoulder and mashed potato, as I smoked a bunch of meat a few days prior), I figured I’d give them a try.

Little did I know how well they’d turn out. My husband raved about them. Raved. He exclaimed that he could imagine these could be served at all sorts of parties and could see them being a big hit with a crowd. I didn’t disagree – and the ones I made were gobbled up by the two of us that evening. I can see endless variations of fillings for these things, both sweet and savory. Needless to say, I underestimated pierogies. Now, I’m sold.

 

Sweet Potato-Rosemary Pierogi Filling (makes enough for 30+ pierogies)

2 c mashed, cooked sweet potato (I simply microwaved whole sweet potatoes until cooked, scooped out the insides, and mashed)

1/2 t fresh rosemary needles, chopped

1 T Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together mashed sweet potatoes and the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste. Fill pierogies with this filling. (Leftover filling makes a great side dish for another meal.)

 

Pork and Potato Pierogi Filling (makes enough for 30+ pierogies)

1 c mashed, cooked potato (I simply microwaved potatoes until cooked, scooped out the insides and mashed)

2 c finely chopped smoked pork shoulder (ham can be substituted)

1/2 t fresh sage leaves, chopped

1/2 t dry mustard

2 T Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread

1 T nutritional yeast flakes (optional, but create a somewhat “cheesy” flavor)

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together all ingredients and season to taste. Fill pierogies with filling.

 

Gluten-Free Pierogies, adapted from What I Eat (makes about 18 small pierogies or 12 larger ones)

1/3 c tapioca starch

1/3 c sweet white rice flour

2 T potato starch

1/2 t sea salt

1 T xanthan gum

2 eggs

1 T grapeseed oil

Combine flours, salt, and xanthan gum in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl, and then whisk in oil. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until combined. You can then knead this into a ball.

Grab small portions of the dough at a time and roll out on parchment paper (I rolled it out on a Silpat) to 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3 or 4 inch circle biscuit or cookie cutter, cut rounds from the dough. Repeat until all of the dough has been rolled out and cut. Place a bit of water in a small bowl, wet your fingertips, and run them around the outside of each circle. This is to help the dough seal. Place a bit less than a teaspoonful of filling in the center of each circle, and then fold in half and carefully seal the edges, either using the tines of a fork, a pierogi form, or your fingers. (I found my fingers to be the easiest.)

To cook pierogies, bring a pot full of salted water to a boil. Lower the pierogies into the boiling water with a slotted spoon and allow to boil for 10-15 minutes or until al dente. Remove with a slotted spoon. Serve with desired sauce or melted butter, or allow to cool to room temperature for frying.

To fry: Bring 3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil (or other frying oil) to medium-high heat in a heavy skillet. Pat the pierogies dry and place in the oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes per side or until browned. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. Serve with melted butter. (I melted Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread and infused fresh sage leaves in the “butter”. While I don’t use that stuff every day, it tasted lovely and was dairy and soy-free!)

Comments

  1. says

    Woo-Hoo Alta! I am unbelievably impressed, my friend!

    I love pierogies, but have never even thought to make my own (I buy Conte’s GF Pierogies in the frozen section at Whole Foods). Come to think of it, I have never had a fresh pierogie. Your sage butter sounds delicious too, will have to add this to my list! :-D

    xo,
    Heidi

  2. says

    I love pierogi, especially when I dip them in sour cream!! Yum! These are great filling options to go with a delicious looking periogi dough!
    I am looking forward to trying these, as I have not yet attempted to make these since being gluten free!
    Beautiful pictures, by the way!

  3. says

    I love this idea! Sweet potatoes with Rosemary. What a great idea! And I agree, I now love pierogis, too. Next up are apricot pierogis at my house! I admit I was very challenged with this, but more of that challenge was in my head because they were really so very easy.

    Great photos!

  4. says

    Yum and wow, Alta! Pierogies (“pies”) are classic comfort food in most Slavic countries, and I became completely enamored of them while studying in Moscow in the early 1970s. I love the innovative combination of ingredients you’ve used for the filling (yum and wow, again!). Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful recipe.

  5. says

    These look delicious, but they sound just like ravioli? Is it just a different name from a different province, or something? I will have to give these a try. Yum!

  6. says

    It’s funny, when I first read that you could pick whatever filling you want, I immediately thought I would want to use sweet potato. I guess great minds think alike. :) Seriously, these look awesome! I have a friend who LOVES pierogies, so I have to learn how to make these!

  7. Kristina says

    I decided to tackle pierogi today using your dough recipe. Though this meal is time consuming, it is well worth it! I haven’t had pierogi since being really strict on my gluten-free/dairy-free path, and I truly missed it.

    I made marinara from scratch this afternoon, and for the filling I chose to do mashed potato, Bella mushroom and onion. My husband and I devoured everything up about half an hour ago with salad on the side.

    Thank you so much for sharing. I also think this dough could be used as soup dumplings. Pot stickers, too, now that I think of it. It’s definitely a keeper!

  8. Kathy says

    We’re just recently gluten-free and I’m using this recipe to make a traditional Lithuanian dumpling this year for Christmas. Thanks! PS – how important is it to use Grapeseed oil vs. other oils?

    • tastyeatsathome says

      Kathy, I don’t think using grapeseed vs. other oils is vital. As long as you use another rather flavorless oil with a high smoking point, you should be good.

  9. says

    I love pierogies, and your filling sounds great, I like the with sauteed onions and sour cream, with a side of stir fried sweet and sour cabbage. menu toward the end of the week thank you. I’ve made your pumpkin chili now twice everyone loves it!

  10. Jenna says

    We just had these for dinner with your sweet potato filling. They were delicious. Thank you for the recipe.

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