There are certain recipes that one can only make a couple of times a year, they just take too much time, too much planning – they are simply huge undertakings. These are the types of recipes most people shy away from and for good reason.I, however, love them. There is something about spending a large portion of my Saturday or Sunday in the kitchen, focusing on one recipe, letting the stress wash away, and simple creating. My favorite recipes do not require immediate consumption: decorated sugar cookies, French bread, or pierogi. I make them for the sake of making them and nothing more.
One of my favorite such recipes is my pierogi recipe. That’s right, there are other ways to find pierogi than in your grocer’s freezer or driving to Pittsburgh. This recipe calls for a basic cheddar and potato filling, but once you’ve made the dough, you are only limited by what fillings you can dream up. Some fillings I hope to try in the future: apples and cinnamon, cabbage and potatoes (cubed small), and cabbage and ground sausage.
2 cups all purpose flour
½ a tsp salt
1 large egg
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup butter softened
1) Wisk flour and salt together
2) Beat egg in a small bowl and add all at once to the flour mixture
3) Mix together butter and sour cream, add to flour mixture and work dough until it loses most of its stickiness.
4) Chill dough for 30 minutes or up to 2 days
This is a great recipe for using up left over mashed potatoes with cheddar and seasonings mixed in. If you don’t have leftover mashed potatoes around, here is a basic filling recipe.
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup milk
2 cloves of garlic
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
A) Boil the cubed potatoes in salted water until easily pierced with a fork. While they are boiling, heat a dry pan over medium-low heat and place unpeeled garlic cloves in the pan to toast. Toast for about 5-10 minutes depending on clove size and turn frequently. They are done when soft.
B) Using potato ricer or masher, mash the boiled potatoes and the soft, toasted garlic in a bowl. Add butter and milk and mix well. You want to make these mashed potatoes as smooth as possible, so don’t skimp on the mashing. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool.
C) When potatoes have reached room temperature, mix in shredded cheese.
Assembling the Pierogi
1) Roll out dough to 1/8 inch and use a round cookie cutter or glass, approximately 3 inches in diameter, to cut out circles.
2) Place a heaping teaspoon of filling on dough, brush outside edge with egg wash (this helps seal the pierogi), and seal with fork tines.
3) If freezing, place pierogi on cookie sheet until full and place in freezer for an hour. After that store in air-tight freezer bag or Tupperware.
Once I’ve made fresh pierogi, I have to make myself just a few to enjoy immediately. Depending on my mood, I’ll either bake them or sauté them onions, garlic, and mushrooms.
Baking: Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and place pierogi on the sheet. Spray the top of the pierogi with the non-stick spray and sprinkle seasonings over them (optional). I like garlic powder and either paprika or chili powder. Bake for 8-10 minutes, flipping about halfway through. You can bake them from frozen, just increase the baking time by 2-4 minutes.
Sautéing: As a kid, pierogi were a real treat and they were always served sautéed with onions and kielbasa. It’s one of my many comfort foods. For one serving, about 4 pierogi, thinly slice ¼ – ½ an onion, a couple cloves of garlic, and some mushrooms. Over medium-high heat, heat about 1.5 tbls olive oil. After a minute, add onion/garlic/mushrooms and sauté for a minute or so, and then add fresh pierogi. I highly recommend a non-stick pan in addition to the oil, as fresh pierogi have a tendency to stick to the pan. If your pierogi are frozen, place in HOT water for several minutes until the insides feel mostly defrosted.