making polish pierogi
April 19, 2015 § 6 Comments
Since Day 10 of Writing 101 is about food tradition–I am obligated to write about pierogi. (By the way, I recently learned that pierogi is plural, you never add an S on the end of it).
It’s a Polish tradition! For Christmas and Easter every year, my family makes (and eats) Pierogi. Many people have never heard of this delectable doughy treat, but I have grown up with these little guys and can’t imagine Christmas or Easter without them. We typically make two types: Sauerkraut and Potato with Cheese (farmers cheese). One time I made tuna pierogi. Yes, tuna. Nobody cared for them. I admit, I forgot to season the canned tuna I used. I was trying to be creative but they were pretty dry and tasteless—only my dad complimented them and actually ate a couple. Never again. Lesson learned: never change tradition.
Typically, a few dozen are made the week prior to the holiday and they are boiled and then frantically fried in butter just moments prior to sitting down to dinner. The frying process gets them just a little browned and a little crispy. You don’t HAVE to fry them, but it does add a little crunch and a few calories which is always nice.
Making them is fun, especially if you have a wacky sister to help and an understanding, patient mom to guide you. The night before the pierogi manufacturing event, you make the filling (otherwise the process takes TOO long and you will get crabby and start fighting with your kitchen mates). I know this.
Rolling the dough correctly is important—you must get the dough to be just the right thickness (or thinness) and then you punch out a bunch of circles with a little template, like maybe a tuna can (a clean one of course). The most fun is plopping a small wad of filling in the center of the dough circle, folding the dough in half and pinching the edges to close and seal. Then you laugh, laugh, laugh at how peculiar shaped you managed to make the finished sealed pierogi and hope you sealed it well enough so that the filling doesn’t come spewing out in the boiling process. (Mine tend to look a bit like albino stingrays.) If you want to be a little fancy, you can press a fork along the edge to seal it around the perimeter which gives added reinforcement and a cute decorative edge treatment. My mummy doesn’t like the fork thing, but I do.
I am envious of the pierogi creators that can make their pierogi all look the same — very neat and uniform looking. I have always thought ours come out a bit “disheveled.” No two alike. Maybe that’s ok.
PLEASE add a comment if you make pierogi and can offer any helpful hints or advice, or if you just like to eat them. I also am looking for ideas on how to differentiate the pierogi so you know which flavor is which, so you don’t have to keep them separated at all times. Does anyone do this by forming a unique decorative edge treatment for each kind?