who the heck knows anything, anyway

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

FOOD POST. Or: How to make the best pierogi

I debated for a while whether or not I was going to share this recipe, but I like the idea of sharing knowledge, so it would be silly of me to keep it a secret. I'm going to warn you right now, before you get in too deep, that it might be a little difficult to make these without help or without having previously made them under someone's expert guidance (see: my mother). However, I did try to break down the instructions in such a way as to make it easier on you. My recipe is basically just the list of dough ingredients and the amount of boiling time. The potato filling? We basically just make up new ones every time, so why write it down? Well, lucky for you, I sort of took note of what I was doing last Friday so I could spread the love.

So, without further ado, I give you--
PIEROGI! Or: my favorite food. (note: all photos used below are mine)

I got the dough recipe from my mom*, and we invented our own special ruskie filling over Christmas. I don't have pictures of Friday's batch all fried up and covered in sauerkraut/scallion/sour cream/caramelized onion goodness, because we ate them too quickly. They were so freaking good. And the recipe makes enough for about 60-70 pierogi, so I have dough and filling left over in the freezer for Pierogi 2: The Pierogining.

What makes such a blissful ruskie filling, you ask? Well, hey, how about I become your new best friend by sharing the recipe. This is hella Polish-legit, so, you know, your arteries will not thank you, but your mouth and belly and the pleasure-centers of your brain will.

Kerry & Killian Czuba's Most Superb Pierogi Recipe
Makes: about 60-70 pierogi
Prep & Cook Time: most of your day. This is not a recipe for the faint of heart.

2 cups sour cream
4.5 cups flour
2 tblsp melted butter
2 eggs and 1 egg yolk
2 tsp salt
2 tblsp oil

Mix ingredients and knead for 3-4 minutes. Let rest for 10 min. Roll out (you can use a little flour, but you want the dough to be a little wetter. As Daniel quickly learned, this is very different from pizza dough) and cut into 2-3'' circles (cookie cutters or a tumbler/similarly wide-rimmed glass will do the trick). See Assembly and cooking for the rest!

RUSKIE (potato and cheese) FILLING!:
2 lbs yukon gold 'taters
1/2-1 yellow onion, caramelized
3/4-1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup of delicious cheese, grated. (I used aged Manchego because they didn't have the non-aged kind at the grocery store. Both work very well, though, as it turns out. Aged Manchego is a bit more tart, which balances well with the sweetness of the onions)
pinch of salt and black pepper, to taste (they're back-up flavors here, so go easy on them)

Peel and quarter potatoes and throw 'em in a pot. Let them boil and then simmer until they're tender but not disintegrating (a knife should slide through easily). While they're simmering away, caramelize that onion! It takes probably about 15 minutes (but don't quote me on that). Keep an eye on them, and tend to them lovingly throughout. When done, they should be soft and light brown, not burned. Take them off the stove and set them aside. Then mash your potatoes! I used a hand masher. Squish 'em real good, adding the milk to keep them nice and creamy. Continue squishing, and add other non-onion ingredients. Once thoroughly-squished, stir in the onions. TA DAA! Taste it, and nod knowingly. Then taste it again, just to be sure. Feel free to continue tasting it.

Alright. Now that you have a bunch of little dough circles and a big bowl of filling, it's time to combine forces. Spoon the filling into the circles (see photo above. I didn't measure so much as used-a-regular-spoon-to-dollop-the-amount-that-"felt-right"). Then, with expert dexterity, pinch the sides together so it looks like a fat, moon-shaped dumpling! I didn't need to use and water to seal mine up, but if your dough has been sitting out for a while, wet your fingers JUST A LITTLE while you're pinching them. Once they're all prepped and ready to go**, bring a pot of water (with a pinch of salt) to a boil. Boil pierogi for 10 minutes, in small groups. While pierogi are boiling, heat up a frying pan with butter to medium heat (the size of your pan and the size of your pot, combined, will dictate how many pierogi you can cook at a time. I could do 5, max.). After the pierogi are done boiling, fry them in the pan until lightly browned on both sides. While they're frying, throw the next round into the water to boil. Repeat until all pierogi are fried up.

I'm a sauerkraut enthusiast, so I consider it a "must"
chopped chives or scallions
more caramelized onions (I used 1/2 the onion in my potatoes and saved the other half for topping)
sour cream

Cover pierogi with toppings, and EAT THEM ALL.

I served them with a cucumber vinegar salad. Which was also hella bomb, but you can find recipes for that pretty easily on the interwebs. My great grandma used to make cucumbers in vinegar for picnic-style eating out in the orchard during the summer time. I remember that, as a little girl, I was amazed that cucumbers in vinegar are not the same thing as pickles, and that they are also wonderfully refreshing. Also, as we all learned from Wooden Teeth and Jelly Beans, cucumbers in vinegar were President Grant's favorite food. Neato!

Making them with my mom over Christmas. (She did most of the hard work with these ones.)

Friday's looked basically like this. These are the ones from Christmas.
We may have eaten (read: inhaled) ours too quickly this weekend to get a photo of the finished product.
*If you look up pierogi dough recipes online, you will be bombarded with simple, low-cal versions. Water and flour? That's it? REALLY? No, that's not it. You need like 3 eggs, 2 cups of sour cream, butter, and oil along with your flour. Those ingredients are what make a real pierogi.
**Pro tip: if you want to freeze them, do it BEFORE you cook them. Lay the pierogi on a wax-paper-lined cookie sheet and freeze for a couple of hours. Once frozen, you can transfer them from cookie sheets to freezer bags. This way they won't stick together.