Jane’s Pierogi

Author: Annie Hauck-Lawson & Jane Hauck

Making pierogi is a process that we grew up with, from our Babci’s sun-filled kitchen table to my Mother’s kitchen counter; the rolled-out dough circles with fruit or savory fillings pinched shut, then dropped into salted boiling water, scooping them out, tossing with butter and mmmmmmmmmm-inhaling a few of the first cooked.  – AHL

The day before, make fillings
Base for Kapusta and for Potato and Cheese
1 pound fat back, diced
2 onions, chopped

Kapusta filling
2-3 pound head green cabbage, thinly sliced.

Boil kapusta in salted water. Remove from water, let cool, and by hand, squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Mix in ½ the onions and rendered fat back pieces. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Set aside. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.

Potato and cheese filling
4 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 ½ pounds dry farmer cheese, crumbled
2 eggs, beaten
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Boil potatoes in salted water until done. Drain water and return pot to the flame to cook off any remaining cooking liquid. Mash potatoes and let cool. Add farmer cheese, eggs, other half of the onions and rendered fat back pieces and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and set aside. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.

Pierogi Dough
3 pounds of unbleached white flour
2 eggs, beaten into
1- 1 ½ pints warmed water/milk combination (can also include some sour cream or plain yogurt stirred in the mixture); enough to form a smooth, elastic dough
1 ½ tsp. salt or to taste

For tossing pierogi when done:
1 4-oz stick of butter, melted

On a stolniza (very large wooden board with a lip along three sides to contain the dough) or other large flat surface, mix the flour and salt and make a well in the center. Begin to pour in liquid mixture to work into the flour. Keep adding liquid and work the dough, little by little until the mass begins to form and you can knead. Knead steadily, adding a little liquid or flour, until the dough is smooth and elastic; with my Mother, we listened for a ‘squeak’ each time she pushed forward with the dough; this was our signal, along with the feel, that the dough was done.

Put the dough in a loosely closed plastic bag and bring a big pot of water and 1 ½ T. of water to boil.

With a paring knife, cut a 3” piece of dough and shape it into a snake-like log about 9” long. Cut ¾” pieces from this. Roll each one into a circle about 3” in diameter. When these are done, put a heaping tablespoon of filling into each center. Take up each piece in the palm of one hand, lightly moisten half of each circle’s edge with a little water (we ‘paint’ on the water with a pastry brush) and pinch the half circles closed, pulling the dough around to make a firm seal. Set each pierogi down until each batch is complete. Add them, one by one, to the boiling water, enough that when they rise, they will float on one layer i.e. don’t overcrowd. Stir the pot gently with the stick of a wooden spoon. The pierogi will float to the top when done, approximately 4- 6 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon to an empty bowl to which you have added 1 ½ T. melted butter. Toss and let temper.

Repeat the process, cutting off a fresh piece from the big piece of dough, cutting, rolling out, filling, pinching and boiling subsequent pieces, until all the dough is gone. We work with several bowls, transferring cooled pierogi to a big bowl so hot ones can go in an empty, buttered bowl. Don’t be afraid to toss with extra butter so they don’t stick.

When re-heating pierogi, put a little butter and a little water to heat in a heavy pan, add a layer of pierogi, cover tightly and heat gently until thoroughly re-thermalized.

Some people like to serve pierogi with sautéed onions or sour cream or applesauce or just a few sprinkles of salt.